A special CBI court on Saturday reserved its verdict on the discharge application moved by retired Deputy Superintendent of Police K M Vaghela, an accused in the Sadiq Jamal Mehtar encounter case. The court is likely to pronounce the order on February 28. This is the first discharge application moved by an accused in this case. Vaghela has claimed that there is evidence against him in the case. He has also claimed that the CBI has not taken mandatory sanction from the state government under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for prosecuting a government servant.
Vaghela is among the eight policemen, including DySP Tarun Barot, who were chargesheeted by the CBI in December 2012. All the accused are out on bail. The second chargesheet is being awaited as the investigation is not yet over.
Recently, the special court dismissed an application moved by Sadiq’s brother Shabbir, seeking further investigation into the case, including the role played by senior police officers in Gujarat and Maharashtra. This is also the first case of encounter in which the names of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Mumbai, has come out.
The CBI has opposed Vaghela’s discharge plea stating that he was part of the conspiracy right from the beginning till the fake encounter in which Sadiq was gunned down. CBI Special prosecutor, R C Kodekar, argued, “Vaghela is part of conspiracy and an overt act is not required to prove the case. Conspiracy started from Mumbai when Sadiq was first apprehended by local police and IB officials. It was part of the conspiracy through which Sadiq was handed over to accused Gujarat police officials. They kept him in illegal confinement and ultimately killed him on January 13, 2003.”
Sadiq, a resident of Bhavnagar, was branded as “Lashkar-e-Toiba operative out to kill then chief minister Narendra Modi and other saffron leaders”. Last year, the CBI, in its reply, had opposed Vaghela’s plea wherein it stated that “Sadiq was not a terrorist”.