The CBI on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that no witness in the alleged fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati had informed the agency about any “threat” they faced and sought police protection. But if anyone needed protection, they would be provided that.
The CBI was responding to an earlier question by the high court on what the CBI was doing to provide protection to witnesses while taking into consideration the fact that several of them had turned hostile. “None of the witnesses has informed us about them facing any threat and therefore sought any protection. If anyone wants protection, we will ensure they get it,” Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh, who was appearing for CBI, said.
The high court was hearing three applications filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin challenging the discharge of former deputy inspector-general of Gujarat D G Vanzara, Rajasthan IPS officer Dinesh M N and Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandian, along with two applications filed by the CBI challenging the discharge of Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod and Gujarat police officer N K Amin.
“What protection are you offering your witnesses? It is your duty to protect the witnesses so they can depose fearlessly. You can’t file a chargesheet and not give your witness protection,” Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said while hearing the matter on Monday. So far, 30 witnesses presented by the prosecution to support its case — that Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausarbi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati were victims of extra-judicial killings — have turned hostile in the special CBI court in Mumbai.
Rubabuddin’s lawyer Gautam Tiwari began his arguments relating to the discharge of Dinesh M N. One of the reasons for the CBI court discharging him on August 1, 2017, was that the agency had failed to get the sanction or the special permission to prosecute them. He is said to be involved in the alleged fake encounter of both Sohrabuddin and Prajapati. “He allegedly travelled on November 24, 2005, from Udaipur to Ahmedabad to participate in the alleged encounter (of Sohrabuddin) on November 26, 2005,” Tiwari said on Tuesday. Dinesh’s counsel said that while he was there in Ahmedabad, witness statements don’t say he was there prior to or during the encounter.
Tiwari relied on witness statements to show collusion between Dinesh, Pandiyan an Vanzara before and after the alleged fake encounters. “Even before the encounter, both Sohrabuddin and Prajapati were persons of interest to Dinesh,” Tiwari said, pointing to the statement of a police officer from Madhya Pradesh who had said Dinesh had visited that state to collect information on them.
The court on Tuesday sought transcripts of a recording which is an additional documents in the case of N K Amin. Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster who the Gujarat police claimed had “links with the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba” and his wife Kausar Bi were were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat ATS from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra and killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.