SENIOR COUNSEL Mahesh Jethmalani on Friday told the Bombay High Court that there is no sufficient evidence against former Gujarat DGP D G Vanzara in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged encounter case and rather, it was the CBI’s “game” to nail two top officers — Vanzara and former Gujarat SP Rajkumar Pandian. The court was hearing a revision plea filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Shaikh, challenging the discharge of Pandian, Vanzara and IPS officer Dinesh M N by the trial court, along with two applications filed by the CBI challenging the discharge of Rajasthan Police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod and Gujarat Police officer N K Amin.
Sohrabuddin, a criminal with alleged terror links, and his wife Kausarbi were killed in a suspected fake encounter by the Gujarat Police in November 2005. Tulsiram Prajapati was killed in another suspected fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan Police in December 2006 after he allegedly witnessed Shaikh and his wife’s abduction before they were reportedly killed. Jethmalani and lawyer Gunjan Mangla, while arguing on the discharge of Vanzara, told the court that there is no sufficient evidence to show Prajapati was present in Hyderabad when Sohrabuddin was allegedly abducted. Even Sohrabuddin’s brother Mohammed Nayeemuddin’s statement does not mention Prajapati’s presence in Hyderabad, when Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi were boarding a private luxury bus from Hyderabad to go to Sangli in Maharashtra to visit a doctor and were allegedly abducted.
Jethmalani said that only Rubabuddin’s statement mentions that Nayeemuddin told him that he saw Prajapati going to Hyderabad, which is contrary to all of Nayeemuddin’s previous statements. He added that in a letter written by Prajapati to the NHRC and the Supreme Court, he never said that he was a witness to the abduction of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi. Claiming that there is no evidence to show Prajapati was in Hyderabad, Jethmalani said: “They (CBI) want to nail top two officers (Vanzara and Pandiyan), that’s the game.” Jethmalani also told the court that the medical reports of Sub-Inspector Ashish A Pandya from Palanpur Special Operation Group, who allegedly sustained an injury in the cross-fire between him and Prajapati during the alleged encounter, show that he was shot from a distance, which leads to the conclusion that the encounter was genuine.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for CBI, argued on the discharge granted by the trial court to former SP N K Amin of the Gujarat crime branch. Singh said Amin was present at Illol village during the disposal of Kausarbi’s body. “There was no justification by Amin on why he was present at the spot, where Kausarbi’s body was disposed of, even when it was out of his jurisdiction.”
Jethmalani, also appearing for Amin, said the trial court’s order should not be interfered with because while the statement of a key witness reveals Amin’s presence at the spot of disposal of Kausarbi’s body, the same witness had retracted his statement before the trial court. “Mere presence doesn’t mean he was part of conspiracy.”
Further, Singh opposed the discharge granted by the trial court to constable Dalpat Singh. He said Dalpat was part of the escort team, which was returning from Ahmadabad to Udaipur with Prajapati on December 26, 2006. According to the CBI, on the intervening night of December 26 and 27, 2006, Prajapati had fled from a train after throwing chilli powder on the escort team, following which he was killed in an encounter.