The Bombay High Court today directed the CBI to clear its stand on the review petitions filed by Rubabuddin Shaikh against the discharge of three serving and retired IPS officers in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case of Gujarat.
Justice A M Badar asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to clarify whether or not these officers, Rajkumar Pandian, Dinesh M N and D G Vanzara, should have faced trial in light of the evidence presented against them by the probe agency in its charge sheet in the 13-year-old case.
Rubabuddin Shaikh is the brother of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, a gangster with alleged terror links, who along with his wife Kausar Bi, was killed in a suspected fake encounter by the Gujarat Police in November 2005.
Justice Badar is looking into five review pleas, three filed by Rubabuddin Shaikh and two by the CBI, challenging the discharge granted to some Gujarat and Rajasthan police officers by the trial court.
Justice Badar gave the directions to the CBI today before he began hearing the arguments against Dinesh's discharge.
Before Rubabuddin Shaikh's lawyer Gautam Tiwari could begin the arguments, Justice Badar asked whether the CBI had something to say in the case of Pandian since both Tiwari and Pandian's counsel Mahesh Jethmalani had concluded their respective arguments in his case last week.
The CBI, however, replied in the negative, saying it was concerned with just two review pleas that it had filed before the court.
At this, Justice Badar remarked that considering that the central agency represented the prosecution in the case, it must make arguments on all the pleas.
"We are dealing with the killings of three persons (Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and Prajapati) here.
"You will have to make your stand clear on whether or not these officers should have faced trial considering the evidence in your charge sheet," the judge maintained.
Justice Badar is conducting daily hearings on all the five pleas.
Tiwari accused Dinesh of selecting his aides to be part of the escort police team that was to accompany Prajapati from Udaipur to Ahmedabad for a court hearing, and also on the return journey to ensure that he could be eliminated in a pre- planned encounter enroute.
Tiwari also claimed Dinesh had falsely implicated one of Prajapati's aides, Azam Khan, in a false case of vehicle theft.
"Khan was to be taken to Ahmedabad, along with Prajapati, in the train for the same case hearing. However, Dinesh MN ensured that Khan was taken into custody just a day before Prajapati's encounter to ensure that the two were separated," he said.
Khan was subsequently acquitted of all charges in the vehicle theft case by a local court in Rajasthan.
Incidentally, Khan, now a prosecution witness in the case, had sent a letter to the trial court last month stating that while he wanted to depose, he feared for his life.
Khan lives in Udaipur at present.
The encounter case was transferred to Mumbai from Gujarat in 2012 to ensure a fair trial.
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