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Complainant questions transfer of Judge in fake encounter cases

The next hearing in the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case and the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case which have been clubbed together has been pushed to August 1 after the complainant questioned the transfer of the judge who was hearing the matters earlier. The judge has been transferred to Pune.

In an application filed in court, the complainant sought a stay on the proceedings after informing the court that they have written to the Chief Justice of the High Court to revoke the transfer.

The court on Thursday gave the complainant two weeks’ time to place the orders of the High Court, if any, on the letter that they have written. Till then, the applications related to bail and discharge have been kept in abeyance.

The case was transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai this year. On May 9, the court issued summons to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aide Amit Shah (now the BJP chief) and other accused in the case. The CBI had charge-sheeted Mr. Shah and 18 others, including several police officers in September 2013.

Mr. Shah did not appear in court today and sought an exemption which the CBI lawyer opposed saying that no sufficient reason was given for granting exemption. However the defence argued that criminal prosecution must not be a medium of harassment and Mr. Shah could not be in court as he was busy in urgent and important political work.

The advocate appearing for Mr. Shah told the court that whenever presence of the accused in court is necessary, as directed by the court, he will attend the court hearing. Mr. Shah’s lawyer also told the court that his discharge application is pending. The court granted exemption to Mr. Shah for the hearing.

When Mr. Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Shah served as his Home Minister, but had to resign in 2010 after he was alleged to have sanctioned a fake encounter by the state police, which saw three Muslims being killed by officers who alleged they were terrorists planning to assassinate Mr. Modi.

In its charge-sheet, the CBI named Mr. Shah, the former Home Minister of Gujarat, along with 18 others, including several police officers. Mr. Shah has been booked for criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and offences under the Arms Act.

Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and Tulsiram were traveling on a bus from Andhra Pradesh in 2005 when they were abducted by the Gujarat police. Sohrabuddin and his wife were killed a few days later. Tulsiram, the sole witness to their abduction, was shot dead a year later; the police claimed that he was trying to escape from their custody.

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