Bombay HC refuses to drop case against two Rajasthan cops in Sohrabuddin encounter case

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by two Rajasthan police sub-inspectors who sought a discharge in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter killing case. They had challenged orders passed last July by a special trial court refusing to drop the case against them. The trial has progressed and observing that 125 witnesses already examined by the prosecution, Justice A M Badar swiftly declined to intervene or grant any relief to the accused police officers, Himanshu Rajawat and Shyam Singh Charan.

The dismissal came the day Justice Badar began a final hearing of a bunch of appeals against discharge granted to half a dozen other accused, all police officers. Justice Badar also observed that the defence counsel for both the accused has also already cross-examined these witnesses.

“Revisional jurisdiction is required to be exercised sparingly, in exceptional cases, when there is some glaring defect of procedure or a manifest error on a point of law which has consequently resulted in a flagrant miscarriage of justice,’’ said Justice Badar, adding that in this case, none of these conditions exists.

The Judge also began hearing at length, Gautam Tiwari counsel for Rubabbudin Shaikh, Sohrabuddin’s brother, the first informant in the case. He has challenged the discharge given to three accused–senior IPS officers former deputy inspector general of Gujarat D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, Dinesh MN as well as

Tiwari began arguments afresh on Pandian’s case. He cited statements of prime witnesses Nathuba Jadeja, and Gurudayal Chaudhary, both drivers with Gujarat ATS, to show that their statements which outline the entire sequence of the abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauserbi near Zahirabad on the way from Hyderabad to Sangli, near Belgaum, till their allegedly illegal execution in Gujarat on November 26-27, 2005, are corroborated by other independent witnesses too. He also pointed out that criminal procedure code section 197 which provides of prior sanction to prosecute public servants wasn’t attracted in the case, since abduction and killing is in no way a public duty. He completed his submissions in a five-hour marathon hearing. On Thursday, Mahesh Jethmalani, Pandian’s counsel will begin his arguments.

The CBI has separately challenged the trial court orders which were in favour of former Gujarat crime branch officer N K Amin and Dalpat Singh, a police officer from Rajasthan. Of the nearly 40 accused in the case, the trial court had over a year between August 2016 and September 2017 dropped the case against 15 including the now BJP national president Amit Shah, for want of any prosecutable evidence and lack of prior sanction in some cases. A year after Shaikh, Tulsiram Prajapati was also allegedly gunned down.

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