In another twist in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake-encounter case, the prosecution on Monday, 5 March, declared two more witnesses hostile after they failed to identify one of the policemen booked for the encounter, reported Hindustan Times (HT).
The witnesses are said to be Bharghav Panchal and Gautam Prajapati.
In their initial statements, Panchal and Prajapati had claimed that they were stopped and asked to act as panch witnesses by the ATS officers on 25 November 2005, the day of the encounter. They had alleged that Sheikh’s post-mortem was done but they had to seize his internal organs for further examination and had also met the then Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) ML Parmar.
On Monday, however, they failed to recognise Parmar in the courtroom, following which they were declared hostile.
Change of Judge Is Routine: SC
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, on Monday, said questions should not be raised over the change in the judge hearing the case in the Bombay High Court, as the change in the roster was a "routine" affair, which is in accordance with the established tradition there, reported PTI.
The apex court said this after the Bombay Lawyers' Association, which has filed a petition seeking independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of Special CBI judge B H Loya, argued that it was a deliberate attempt to remove Justice Revati Mohite-Dere of the Bombay High Court from hearing the appeals in the case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said:
"Your arguments may not be correct. It is a routine affair in Bombay High Court which is part of its established tradition there. Every 8-10 weeks the roster changes and no judges are allowed to hear a part-heard matter."
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the lawyers' body, said a new development has taken place in the Bombay High Court recently in which Justice Revati Mohite-Dere, who was hearing the case and asked "searching and intriguing questions" from the CBI was assigned to hear bail and anticipatory bail applications.
"Those judges, who stood in the way were punished and those who have dealt were awarded. This was a deliberate attempt to take away the case from the judge in the name of roster change," Dave said.
To this, Justice Chandrachud said that he has served in the Bombay High Court and knows the practice of roster change there and which is not common among other high courts of the country.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times and PTI)
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