Almost two weeks after it began day-to-day hearing on petitions challenging the discharge of police officials in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 22 February, said that the CBI had failed to adequately assist it due to which it was still unclear on the agency's overall case.
Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said the CBI had failed to put all evidence on record including the prima facie evidence against those discharged to assess whether the same warranted that they be discharged from the case.
"It is the primary duty of a prosecuting agency to place all evidence on record before the court. However, in this case, despite the court’s repeated queries, the CBI has chosen to argue only on the role of the two officials whose discharge it has challenged. I am still unclear on the prosecution’s overall case since I am not getting enough assistance from the CBI." - Justice Mohite-Dere
The court has now directed the CBI to submit details of all the witnesses' statements recorded under section 164 of the CrPC.
Since 9 February this year, when the hearings in the case began, each time that the court has sought documents like the chargesheet, witness statements, or, seized letters related to the case, the CBI has maintained that it did not have the papers and sought time to procure it.
The CBI's conduct had irked the court on previous occasions as well.
Last week, after the CBI sought time to produce a transcript from a voice recorder, Justice Mohite-Dere had said:
"This is not how a premier probe agency is expected to work. You have to ensure all documents pertaining to the case are kept handy whenever this court wants to peruse them."
The court is hearing two petitions filed by the CBI, and another three filed by Rubabuddin Shaikh, the brother of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, challenging the discharge of five of the 14 police officers by a special CBI court in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and their aide Tulsiram Prajapati.
Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat police in November 2005, while Prajapati was killed in another alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in December 2006.
Of the 38 persons charged by the CBI in the case as accused, 15, including senior IPS officers DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandiyan, Dinesh MN and BJP president Amit Shah, were discharged by the special CBI court in Mumbai between August 2016 and September 2017.
While the CBI has challenged the discharge of retired Gujarat IPS officer NK Amin and constable Dalpat Singh Rathod, Rubabuddin has challenged the discharge of Vanzara, Dinesh MN, and Pandian.
Currently, the HC is hearing the arguments of Rubabuddin's lawyer challenging the discharge of Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandian.
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