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Sohrabuddin case: Bombay HC asks CBI why trial court order was not challenged

The Bombay High Court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) why it had not challenged the trial court orders discharging senior IPS officials in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati.

While hearing a revision application filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh, challenging the trial court orders of discharge, Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said the CBI should be “equally aggrieved” with the trial courts order.

She hence, asked the probe agency whether it was planning to challenge the trial court orders of August 2016, and August 2017 discharging IPS officers Rajkumar Pandiyan, D G Vanzara, and Dinesh M N.

Justice Mohite-Dere also gave oral instructions to the CBI counsel to refrain from framing of charges against any accused persons in the case until October 12, the next date of hearing in the High Court.

Rubabuddin Sheikh has filed separate petitions challenging the discharge of the above three officers from the case.

His counsel Gautam Tiwari also told the court today, that “citing the orders of discharge of the above three officials, several other accused persons too were securing discharge on the grounds of parity.”

The Special CBI court in Mumbai that is hearing the case after the Supreme Court ordered for the trial in the fake encounter case to be transferred out of Gujarat, had discharged the above three officials on the ground that the CBI had failed to get prior sanction or the special permission to prosecute them and hence, they could not be prosecuted.

Of the 38 people accused in the case, 15 have been discharged by the special court. 14 of the 15 people discharged are IPS officers.

The CBI has only challenged the discharge of one of these 14 officers — N K Amin, one of the key accused in the case.

Justice Mohite-Dere however, questioned whether the lack of such sanction alone could be adequate reason to warrant an accused person’s discharge from the case.

She also dismissed the CBIs argument that it had challenged the discharge of two Rajasthan police sub-inspectors Himanshu Singh and Shyam Singh Charan.

“You are opposing the discharge of sub-inspectors and constables. But, what about the IPS officers? Can the sole ground of lack of sanction be reason for discharge? All the IPS officers accused in the case have been discharged, only one has been challenged. The law is the same for all applicants. And you (CBI) must be as aggrieved as the applicant (Rubabuddin) with the discharge orders,” Justice Mohite-Dere said.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra.

Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005, after which his wife disappeared.

Prajapati, an aide of Sheikh and an eyewitness to the encounter, was allegedly killed by police in Chapri village in Gujarats Banaskantha district in December 2006.

Vanzara, who was heading the ATS at the time, was charged by the CBI for having conspired with the other accused officials to kill Sheikh and the other victims and pass the incident off as an encounter.

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