The Bombay High Court on Wednesday heard the PIL seeking a writ of mandamus to be issued to the Central Bureau of Investigation directing the agency to challenge the discharge of BJP national president and Member of Parliament Amit Shah from the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh.
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre gave a patient hearing to both the petitioners and the CBI in the matter. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appeared on behalf of the petitioners Bombay Lawyers Association and ASG Anil Singh appeared for the CBI.
Dave submitted that the CBI had failed to do its job by not challenging Amit Shah’s discharge order. He said-
“CBI has faltered on its part by not challenging the discharge. It is our premier investigating agency and is answerable to none but its own conscience. Not challenging the discharge of one of the main accused in the case is an omission on their part.”
Everyone in the court room, including the judges, chuckled when Dave said -"Just because Sohrabuddin Shaikh was a gangster that does not give them the licence to kill him. I thought only James Bond had that."
Dave also addressed ASG Anil Singh’s submission in the last hearing that the petition had less to do with public interest and more to do with publicity. He said-
“Extraordinary facts require extraordinary actions. Publicity is inevitable in such a case, 16 accused out of 38 have been acquitted. Out of the discharged accused, some of the most powerful in country are there. The same CBI had made statement before the trial court that he (Amit Shah) is the main accused in this case and once the government changed, CBI’s stand also did.
In order to preserve the integrity of the trial, it was transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai. If 16 accused are discharged, what is the sanctity of the trial? This is miscarriage of justice.”
ASG Anil Singh argued that the CBI was not obligated to challenge the discharge order as the agency took a conscious decision not to interfere with the order of the trial court. He referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the petition seeking an investigation into the death of Judge BH Loya in order to highlight the observations regarding bonafides of the petitioners.
Singh further submitted that out of the 16 discharges in the case, only two were challenged by the CBI. To this, the court asked him to submit information regarding all discharge orders in the case, the total number of accused and witnesses as well as other data.
On this note, submissions were concluded by both parties. The court then reserved the judgment without allotting a specific date for pronouncement.