Mumbai. The Bombay High Court today issued fresh notices to IPS officers D G Vanzara (retired), Rajkumar Pandiyan, and Dinesh M N seeking their response to pleas challenging their discharge in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati.
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Justice A M Badar, who was hearing a plea filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to provide to Rubabuddin, the residential and official addresses of the three officials mentioned above to ensure that notices are served to them immediately.
Justice Badar was hearing revision applications filed by Rubabuddin challenging the trial court orders issued between August 2016 and August 2017, discharging the three officials from the case.
While Rubabuddin had also sought that the trial in the case against the remaining accused be stayed until his revision pleas were decided upon by High Court, Justice Badar today refused to stay the trial saying that the same would cause prejudice to the remaining accused.
He, however, said that the High Court will expedite the hearing on Rubabuddin’s revision pleas as soon as the notices to three officials were served.
The special CBI court in Mumbai that has been hearing the fake encounter case after the Supreme Court ordered for the trial in the case to be transferred out of Gujarat, had discharged the above three officials on the ground that the CBI had failed to get prior sanction or the special permission to prosecute them and hence, they could not be prosecuted.
Of the 38 people accused in the case, 15 have been discharged by the special court. Fourteen of the 15 people discharged are IPS officers.
The CBI has only challenged the discharge of one of these 14 officers — N K Amin, one of the key accused in the fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi, and also that of Ishrat Jahan.
On the last hearing on Rubabuddin’s revision pleas in the High Court on September 29 this year, another bench of the High Court had asked the CBI why it had not challenged the trial court orders discharging senior IPS officials in the case.
Justice Revati Mohite-Dere had said that the CBI should have been as aggrieved as Rubabuddin was, with the trial court’s discharge order.
She had hence, asked the probe agency whether it was planning to challenge the trial court orders discharging IPS officers Rajkumar Pandiyan, Dinesh M N, and retired IPS officer D G Vanzara.
On September 29, Justice Mohite-Dere had also suggested that perhaps the CBI should ask the special court to temporarily refrain from framing the charges against any accused persons in the case.
On October 24 this year, however, the special court framed charges against 16 persons accused of murder, criminal conspiracy, and destruction of evidence in the case.
The CBI is also yet to inform High Court of whether or not it intends to challenge the discharge of the above three officials.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra.
Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005, after which his wife disappeared.
Prajapati, an aide of Sheikh and an eyewitness to the encounter, was allegedly killed by police in Chapri village in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district in December 2006.
Vanzara, who was heading the ATS at the time, was charged by the CBI for having conspired with the other accused officials to kill Sheikh and the other victims and pass the incident off as an encounter.