The CBI informed the Bombay High Court Tuesday that it will oppose a public interest litigation filed against the agency’s decision not to challenge a lower court order discharging BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case.
Meanwhile, hearing a petition filed by an association of Mumbai lawyers that also seeks records from the HC administrative committee on why the CBI judge initially assigned to conduct the trial was transferred, Justice S C Dharmadhikari said, “We leave it to the petitioner but we feel the institution (HC) should be kept out as far as possible. We request counsel (Dushyant) Dave to take an appropriate decision on this.”
The PIL, filed by the Bombay Lawyers Association, has described as “illegal, arbitrary and malafide” the CBI’s decision not to challenge the December 30, 2014 order discharging Shah in the case. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, told the High Court: “We are opposing the petition. We also have an issue on the maintainability of the petition. There is no urgency in the matter since discharge order is of December 2014.” He said there is also delay in filing the petition.
A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre posted the matter for further hearing on February 13. Senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioner, said the CBI should be asked to file an affidavit specifying their argument on the maintainability of the petition. He said when the Supreme Court decided to transfer the case to Mumbai, it had said the administrative committee of the Bombay High Court would assign the case to a court where the trial may be concluded judiciously, besides asking the committee to also ensure that the trial be conducted from beginning to end by the same officer.
“We all belong to the institution and there is no doubt there is a serious debate on the matter which must be addressed by application of mind by the court. There is no wrong,” Dave said. At this, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “We leave it to the petitioner but we feel the institution should be kept out as far as possible.”
The PIL also stated that the trial court had similarly discharged two Rajasthan Police sub-inspectors Himanshu Singh and Shyam Singh Charan and senior Gujarat Police officer N K Amin. “The petitioner has learnt that the CBI has challenged their discharge before the High Court. This act of the CBI in challenging discharge of the accused persons on selective basis is arbitrary and unreasonable, rather malafide,” the petition stated.
Sohrabuddin, who police said was a gangster, and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat ATS from Hyderabad while on way to Sangli in Maharashtra. It was alleged that they were killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005. In December 2006, Tulsiram Prajapati, a key witness in the case, was also allegedly killed by police at Chapri village in Banaskantha district of Gujarat.