Four more policemen have sought discharge in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh ‘encounter’ case, a week after retired IPS officer D G Vanzara was discharged from the case. Gujarat police inspector Narainsinh Dhabi, police sub-inspector Balkrishna Chaubey, police constable Santram Sharma, and Rajasthan police constable Kartarsing Jat applied for discharge on the grounds of parity with the other accused who were discharged. A total of 15 accused were either discharged or dropped from the case, which was transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai on directions of the Supreme Court in 2012.
The special CBI court was to frame charges against the remaining 23 accused on Wednesday. The court will now decide on the discharge applications first. The CBI has been directed to file a reply on the applications. Last week, the court had discharged Vanzara and IPS officer Dinesh M N, stating that there was no prima facie case to connect the two to the alleged encounter of Sheikh, wife Kausarbi and his associate, Tulsiram Prajapati.
While the CBI had claimed that there was no need for a sanction against the accused to prosecute them as they had exceeded their official duty, the court said that a sanction was required under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
While Sharma’s application for discharge had been rejected in February this year with the court observing there was a ‘strong prima facie’ case against him, others had not sought discharge so far.
Sharma, who is alleged to have taken part in the abduction of the three victims in November 2005, had allegedly changed the number plate of the Qualis Jeep used in the abduction, from its Gujarat registration to one of Andhra Pradesh registration to conceal identity. A witness had also claimed that Sharma was present at the spot where Sheikh was killed.
In November 2005, Sheikh, along with wife Kausarbi and associate Prajapati, was travelling in a Sangli-bound bus from Hyderabad. A police team chased the bus and forced the three to alight and took them to Ahmedabad where Sheikh was allegedly killed. Kausarbi and Prajapati, who had witnessed the incident, were also allegedly killed later.