The Gujarat High Court on Thursday ordered fresh trial in the murder case of RTI activist Amit Jethva, and also directed to appoint a new judge to conduct the retrial. The court also directed to transfer the special CBI judge who had concluded the trial and was on the verge of pronouncing the order that has now been stayed by the high court.
The order comes as a major blow to the accused, including former BJP Junagadh MP Dinu Bogha Solanki, who is a key accused in the murder. Justice J B Pardiwala pronounced the order directing to conduct fresh day-to-day trial of the case. Justice Pardiwala, while pronouncing the order, observed the retrial was required in the interest of justice. The high court also observed that prima facie some of the witnesses were not only threatened but also managed by the accused. The order comes on a petition moved by Jethva’s father Bhikhabhai.
Bhikhabhai had sought retrial and investigation into the alleged threats given to several witnesses by Solanki and also by his nephew and co-accused Shiva Solanki. He has alleged that 105 out of 195 witnesses turned hostile and, therefore, the special CBI court should have ordered an investigation. Bhikhabhai cited at least five complaints in which witnesses informed the CBI about the alleged threats. The CBI wrote to Director-General of Police, Gujarat, and in three cases, security was provided to three witnesses but no investigation was conducted.
Jethva was shot dead outside the high court in 2010 allegedly at the behest of former BJP MP Solanki. Jethva had been exposing Solanki’s alleged illegal mining in Junagadh district. The case was first investigated by Ahmedabad Crime Branch which didn’t include Solanki as an accused. After Bhikhabhai moved the high court, a CBI probe was ordered that established Solanki as the main conspirator.