NEARLY FOUR months after a special court acquitted 22 men, including 21 policemen from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, for the alleged encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh in 2005, his brother Rubabuddin on Thursday filed an appeal before the Bombay High Court against the acquittals.
Claiming he had written to authorities, including the home minister, cabinet secretary, home secretary and director of CBI on January 14, seeking an appeal in the case, Rubabuddin said that after receiving no response from them, he decided to file the appeal himself. The trial court on December 21, last year, had acquitted all 22 men for the alleged encounters of Sohrabuddin, his associate Tulsiram Prajapati as well as the murder of his wife Kausarbi, stating that there was no sufficient evidence to convict them.
Rubabuddin, in his appeal filed through advocate Gautam Tiwari of Probus Legal, said that the trial court’s order was “completely contradictory to the evidence at hand”. He said that while it is a well-settled law that in fake police encounter cases, direct evidence is hard to come and the prosecution relies on circumstantial evidence, the court failed to consider this and hence, the acquittal needs to be set aside.
“The special judge ought to have been conscious of the fact that rarely in cases of police encounters, direct ocular evidence of the complicity of the police personnel is available, as he alone can only explain the circumstances in which a person in the custody died. It is not unknown that the police personnel prefer to remain silent and more often than not even pervert the truth to save their colleagues. The appellant (Rubabuddin) points out that the same is very true in this present instance as out of 92 hostile witnesses, 19 are policemen,” the appeal stated. Of the 210 witnesses examined, 92 had turned hostile.
The petition added that the court should have considered the testimony of the 118 prosecution witnesses, who were not declared hostile, instead of dismissing it. Rubabuddin also claimed that video recordings of statements of various witnesses were not even brought forth during trial.
The plea stated that no effort was made on part of the prosecution to summon magistrates before whom many of the hostile witnesses had given their previous statements. He added that though more than 700 witnesses were cited in the chargesheets, only “irrelevant witnesses” were summoned. He also sought for a retrial in the case, stating that the entire trial has been conducted in a manner to “defeat the ends of justice”.