The special court hearing the case of alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati on Friday issued a warrant against four accused after their advocates remained absent for the hearing even as two witnesses were present for deposition. The court issued the warrants against Gujarat policeman Mukesh Parmar, Rajasthan policemen Himanshu Singh Rawat and Shyam Singh Charan, and another accused Rajendra Jirawala. Special Judge S J Sharma passed an order directing the Superintendent of CBI in Mumbai to execute the warrant and bring the accused before the court on June 4, the next hearing in the case.
One of the witnesses, who had travelled from Rajasthan, was a 65-year-old retired policeman. He told the court that he had appeared before the court despite being unwell and if possible his deposition should be concluded the same day. An associate accompanying the witness told the court that he was suffering from paralysis. The associate also later told The Indian Express that the witness had travelled in a bus for over 1,000 km to reach the hearing as he could not take any other mode of transport due to his health. The court, however, in the absence of the accused could not go forward with the recording of evidence and discharged the witnesses. Special Judge SJ Sharma told the witness that he could seek an exemption from appearance if he was not feeling well when summons are subsequently issued against him.
Another witness had come from Sangli in Maharashtra. They have been directed to appear on another date. An application filed by an advocate later in the day seeking to stay the warrant was rejected by the court. The court has allowed the 22 accused currently facing the trial to seek exemption from appearance during deposition, except for days when their presence is required for identification by witnesses. Their advocates, however, have to remain present in court. On Friday, five accused were present in court. The court had also initially issued a warrant against Andhra Pradesh policeman Ghattamaneni Rao, but after his advocate appeared before the court subsequently in the day, it was cancelled, said special public prosecutor B P Raju. In February, the court had similarly issued a non-bailable warrant against one of the accused, which was cancelled after he appeared before the court. The accused, Balkrishna Chaubey, was also asked to pay travel costs incurred by the witness.
Meanwhile, the court decided on the itinerary to examine the list of 50 witnesses submitted by the CBI this week. Of the 50, six are not likely to be examined after the relevance of their deposition on the role of the current accused was discussed.