Days after Supreme Court (SC) ordered transfer of the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case to a Mumbai special court,CBI is formulating measures to safeguard interests of witnesses. The agency will ensure identity of the witnesses,who will depose against highly influential politicians and police officers,is protected and their travel between states is smooth. Senior officers said once the case was assigned to the special court and investigation completed,CBI would shift witnesses to undisclosed safe locations.
SC said in its September 27 judgment that the decision to transfer the case was not a reflection on the state judiciary,but CBI wants to make sure no witness faces stress or intimidation.
Sohrabuddin and wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by Gujarat ATS from Hyderabad and killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.
Amit Shah,former state minister and a close aide of CM Narendra Modi,was arrested by CBI on July 25,2010,in the case. He spent over three months in Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad. This is perhaps the only case in which seven IPS-rank officers have been named accused,with four,including IG (border range) D G Vanzara,still behind bars. Most witnesses are locals and from within the police force. It is essential they are taken into confidence and their safety ensured, said a CBI officer.
CBI has been granted six more weeks to conclude investigation and a supplementary chargesheet would be filed before the special court in Mumbai. In its chargesheet,the agency has named Shah and 19 others,including additional DGP Geetha Johri and former DGP P C Pande. It will take a while before the case papers are transferred to Mumbai. SC has directed the registrar general of Gujarat HC to collect the case record from the trial court and hand it over to the Bombay HC registry,which would send it to a CBI court as may be decided by the HC administrative committee.