The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed revision applications filed by Rubabuddin Shaikh, brother of deceased Sohrabuddin Shaikh, and the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the discharge of five police officers in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausarbi and aide Tulsiram Prajapati.
Justice AM Badar also allowed a revision petition filed by Gujarat cadre IPS Vinod Aggarwal challenging an order of Special CBI judge rejecting his plea for discharge from the case.
Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin had challenged the discharge of then ATS Chief of Gujarat, DG Vanzara, IPS RK Pandian, and then SP of Udaipur, Rajasthan, Dinesh MN from the case. Whereas the CBI had challenged the discharge of NK Amin, then DSP, Crime Branch, Ahmedabad, and Dalpat Singh Rathod, then constable in Rajasthan police.
According to the prosecution, in order to curb the nuisance created by Sohrabuddin Shaikh, who was “a dreaded criminal”, accused police officers from both Gujarat and Rajasthan entered into a criminal conspiracy to eliminate him which they did and in furtherance of this conspiracy, they killed Kausarbi and Tulsiram Prajapati.
The Gujarat Police had earlier claimed that Sohrabuddin had links with Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI.
Justice Badar concluded that there was not enough evidence against the accused police officers to directly link them with the alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin, Kausarbi and Tulsiram Prajapati. He noted that prior sanction to prosecute a public servant under Section 197 of CrPC was required in the said case and that the accused police officers enjoyed protection of the said provision:
“In the instant case, as allegations made against the discharged accused in charge sheets filed by the prosecuting agencies show that the alleged offence was committed by the respondent/discharged accused no.1 in discharge of his official duty and under the colour of office, even if it is assumed that the discharged accused acted in excess of his official duty, then also he is entitled to claim protection of section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”
Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appeared for DG Vanzara and NK Amin, Senior Advocate Shirish Gupte appeared for Vipul Aggarwal, Raja Thakare appeared for Dinesh MN, Gautam Tiwari appeared on behalf of Rubabuddin Shaikh and ASG Anil Singh appeared on behalf of the CBI.
The accused police officers are a part of the 38 accused in the case named by the CBI in its charge sheet. BJP national president Amit Shah was also one of the accused. However, trial court has discharged 15 of the accused in the case, including Shah.
The trial, in this case, continues before a Special CBI Court at City Civil and Sessions Court, Mumbai.