TWO WITNESSES who had sought to be recalled as witnesses and to summon Gujarat Police officers D G Vanzara and Abhay Chudasama in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case did so with the intention to take ‘revenge’, the special court said in its order acquitting 22 accused.
Special Judge S J Sharma, who retired on Monday, had rejected the applications filed by prosecution witnesses Mahendra Zala and Azam Khan on December 21, on the day of the judgment.
The two witnesses had filed separate applications seeking to be re-examined, which were heard a day before the court pronounced its judgment. The two witnesses had stated that the prosecution had not produced their statements recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC.
Zala had also said his statement, where he has made specific allegations against Vanzara and Chudasama, would bring certain facts before the court and the two could be summoned as accused before the court. Both Vanzara and Chudasama were discharged in 2017 and 2015, respectively. “The attempt to bring those facts by alleging to produce the statement recorded under Section 164 CrPC by re-examining him (Zala) and to summon Vanzara and Chudasama by taking recourse of Section 319 of CrPC appears (to be) nothing but to take revenge from them,” the court said.
Zala said in his plea that once his Section 164 CrPC statement recorded before a magistrate during investigation by the CBI was brought on record by the court, it could follow it up with proceedings under Section 319 of CrPC, which allows the court to summon any person against whom relevant evidence is brought, as accused.
The court also said that the delay of about two months by both the witnesses in approaching the court seeking to be re-examined also speaks of their ‘malafide intention’. “The delay of about two months without any cogent reason speaks of his malafide intention to delay the judgment. There is no merit in the contention of the applicant/witness to allow his request to recall and re-examine him…,” the court said, in separate but similar orders rejecting both Zala and Khan’s pleas.
Khan, who was lodged in a jail in Udaipur at the time of his deposition on November 3, also claimed in his 22-page plea that he and his family members were threatened against deposing against the accused policemen. The court said Khan was brought to the court under “the tight protection of the escort”. Khan said in his plea that he was not able to name senior policemen and politicians involved in the conspiracy during his deposition due to threats to his family from the accused.
“He (Khan) has not stated that he was threatened by accused number 7 (Abdul Rehman) (Rajasthan policeman) on November 3. He has also not stated that in order to record his evidence as per desire of the accused persons his family was tortured in the past,” the court said.
Khan was brought to the court with an escort party comprising of Rajasthan policemen, who escorted him back to Udaipur jail after his deposition.
The court said that Khan had also not voiced his grievances about being tortured to the local courts in Rajasthan.“It be noted that the applicant had deposed against the accused persons to a large extent, which is absolutely not a conduct of a person who is under any kind of threat or coercion,” the court said.
It also said that his plea seeking to examine other witnesses including Popular Builders owners, Dashratbhai and Ramanbhai Patel, who had alleged to have been threatened for money by Gujarat policemen in 2004, could also not be allowed as it is the prerogative of the prosecution to decide whom to examine as witnesses. The court also said that the facts about a firing on Popular Builders was not connected to the Sohrabuddin case and hence Zala’s evidence on that aspect was not relevant to the trial. The CBI in its earlier chargesheets had said the evidence including the firing on Popular Builders was to show “police-politician” nexus.