The Bombay High Court is likely to pronounce Monday, its verdict on whether or not some senior Gujarat and Rajasthan police officers deserve to be discharged in the 2005-2006 encounter case of suspected gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife and their aide.
Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their aide Tulsiram Prajapati were killed in “fake” encounters by the police of the two states in 2005-2006, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
On July 16, a single bench of the high court, presided over by Justice A M Badar, had reserved the verdict on five revision applications challenging the discharge granted in the case by a trial court to Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandian, former Gujarat ATS chief D G Vanzara, Gujarat police officer N K Amin, Rajasthan cadre IPS officer Dinesh M N and Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod.
Justice Badar had been conducting hearings on a daily basis since July 4 on the five revision pleas filed by Sohrabuddin Shaikh’s brother Rubabuddin Shaikh and the CBI.
Rubabuddin Shaikh had filed three of these five pleas, challenging the discharge granted in the case by the trial court to Pandian, Dinesh and Vanzara.
The remaining two pleas were filed by the CBI challenging the discharge granted to Amin and Rathod.
The CBI had booked these five officials, along with 33 other people, as accused in the “fake” encounters of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar Bi in November 2005 and Prajapati in December 2006.
The Gujarat Police had then claimed Sohrabuddin Shaikh had terror links.
Between 2014 and 2017, a special court in Mumbai, where the case was shifted from Gujarat following a Supreme Court order, discharged 15 of these 38 accused.
Those discharged included 14 police officials and BJP president Amit Shah.
As per the CBI charge sheet, Sohrabuddin Shaikh, a suspected gangster based in Gujarat, and Kausar Bi were abducted by officers of the Gujarat ATS and the Rajasthan Police from near Hyderabad, and killed in a fake encounter in November 2005.
Prajapati, an eye-witness to these killings, was shot dead in another staged encounter in December 2006 by some Rajasthan Police officials at the behest of the Gujarat and Rajasthan officers, who had been involved in the killing of the husband-wife duo, the CBI had claimed.
Justice Badar also conducted a separate hearing on a discharge plea filed by Gujarat IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal.
A co-accused in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case, Aggarwal’s discharge plea was rejected by the trial court last year.
He then approached the HC challenging the order, seeking parity with the others who have been discharged.
The verdict in Aggarwal’s case is also likely to be pronounced Monday.
The encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar Bi, and Prajapati were clubbed together in 2013 after the apex curt directed that the trial be shifted to Mumbai from Gujarat.