WITH Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandiyan’s lawyer contending Thursday that the alleged fake encounter case relating to Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his aide and Shaikh’s wife was a “false case fabricated by the then CBI which was politically motivated”, the Bombay High Court asked whether this was why “it (the CBI) is not pointing out…(facts).”
“What is their duty? Are they not supposed to assist and help the court?” asked Justice Revati Mohite-Dere.
This is the third time that the judge pointed to the lack of assistance from the investigating agency since hearings began almost two weeks ago. The court was hearing petitions challenging the discharge of some of the accused in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case of 2005.
Appearing for Rajkumar Pandiyan, senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani said he was referring to the then CBI and not the present CBI when he said this was a “false case fabricated by CBI which was politically motivated”. But when the court asked Jethmalani what he meant, he replied that he was merely saying the CBI “today was much more balanced”. At this, the court remarked, “Is that why it is not pointing out… (facts)?”
“It is not my politics against Your Ladyship’s politics,” said Jethmalani, adding that if the court had any grievance with the CBI the court should take it up with them. The judge then said, “There is no politics.” On Wednesday, Justice Dere said she was unclear about the prosecution’s case in the matter. Earlier, she had observed that she wanted a larger picture from the CBI, not just isolated statements.
The court has been hearing revision applications since February 9. Of these, three are filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin challenging the discharge of former deputy inspector-general of Gujarat D G Vanzara and IPS officers Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandiyan. Two applications are filed by the CBI challenging the discharge of Rajasthan Police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod and Gujarat Police officer N K Amin.
With Rubabuddin’s lawyer concluding his arguments against Pandiyan’s discharge, Jethmalani began his arguments Thursday. “The documentary evidence falsifies witness statements. Most of the witnesses whose statements have been relied on are hardened criminals,” he said.
Referring to Sohrabuddin’s alleged criminal background, Jethmalani said he was a “serious offender”, involved in anti-national activities, convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and “sponsored by ISI”. Jethmalani further said there was no dispute to the fact that Pandiyan went to Hyderabad.
It is alleged that Pandiyan was part of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Gujarat, that had travelled from Ahmedabad on November 20, 2005, to Hyderabad in a Qualis vehicle and reached the city the next day. On November 22, 2005, Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi boarded a private luxury bus from Hyderabad, where they were visiting an associate, to go to Sangli in Maharashtra. They were allegedly abducted en route.
“Pandiyan went to Hyderabad by airline and came back by airline,” said Jethmalani, arguing against claims made by Rubabuddin’s lawyer that he had travelled from Hyderabad in a Qualis towards Gujarat. Referring to the statements made by one witness who was driving the car before and during the alleged abduction, Jethmalani said his statements did not “satisfy the first test of reliability”, as he had retracted his statements several times.
In his statement, the witness had said Pandiyan was present when Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi were abducted and during the encounter of Shaikh. He had also said Pandiyan and Vanzara were present at the site where Kausarbi’s dead body was burnt.