THE CBI has closed its evidence in the alleged fake encounter cases of Tulsiram Prajapati, Sohrabuddin Shaikh and the alleged murder of Shaikh’s wife Kausarbi before a special court in Mumbai on Thursday.
Special Public Prosecutor B P Raju submitted a written statement before Judge S J Sharma, stating that the prosecution has completed its evidence and would not be examining any more witnesses. Last week, the prosecution had claimed that despite its efforts, it had not been able to execute a non-bailable warrant against Narmadabai Prajapati, the mother of Tulsiram, to bring her before the court as a prosecution witness.
Narmadabai had filed a writ petition, seeking an inquiry into her son’s death — which occurred allegedly in an encounter on December 28, 2006 in Gujarat — claiming it was “staged”. Narmadabai was also a key witness since her son had spoken to her about the threats he had allegedly received as he had witnessed the alleged abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife on November 23, 2005. The court had on Saturday said that since “practically this case is completed” and “more than sufficient chances” are given to the prosecution to bring her to court, the case should proceed.
Another application filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother, Rubabuddin, who appeared before the court last week, had sought for the court to examine four other witnesses named in the chargesheet but were not summoned. These included his brother Shahnawazuddin, who has been summoned but has not appeared before the court, Rajnish Rai, a Gujarat IPS officer, who had initially probed the case, as well as Raman Patel and Dashrath Patel, owners of Popular Builders in whose office a firing had taken place in 2004. The CBI had, through the latter two, sought to prove a “criminal-politician-police nexus”. Advocate Gautam Tiwari, representing Rubabuddin, said the application was not taken on record by the court and that he was not going to press it for a hearing.
In the trial, which began in November last year, only 210 prosecution witnesses of the over 700 listed in the CBI chargesheets were examined, including investigating officers of the CBI and the Gujarat CID, which initially investigated the case. Of the 210, 92 turned hostile, including eyewitnesses, who had claimed to have seen the three deceased being abducted from a bus on the night of November 23, 2005 by policemen. The hostile witnesses include co-passengers of the three as well as the driver and cleaner of the bus. Others who turned hostile also include policemen, who had allegedly accompanied the accused policemen to Hyderabad and subsequently in the abduction as part of the conspiracy.
The CBI had initially booked 38 accused in the case, but 16 including all IPS officers and politicians named as accused, were discharged. The current 22 accused include police inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors and constables from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The accused have denied the charges against them. Witnesses have not entirely supported the CBI on the claim that Tulsiram was present in the bus along with Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi, including Sohrabuddin’s younger brother, Nayamuddin, who said that Tulsiram was “planted” by the CBI in its abduction story. Witnesses, including policemen, have also made claims during their deposition that the CBI had threatened them into giving false statements.
Next week, the court is likely to begin hearing the accused on their defence on the CBI allegations under provisions of Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code.