Provide Gujarat govt, Shah with docs in encounter case: SC to CBI

Last Updated: Friday, January 28, 2011 - 00:44

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Thursday directed
the CBI to furnish the Gujarat government and other accused
with documents being relied upon by it for transferring
outside the state the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case
trial allegedly involving former state minister Amit Shah.



A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha in an
order asked the CBI to furnish the State Government, Shah and
other accused with copies of certain portions from the first
status report submitted by the agency to the court in June
last year.
The apex court passed the direction while posting to
February 23, hearing of the agency`s plea for transfer of the
case on the ground that the trial could not be held in a free
and fair atmosphere as " even the judge hearing it had become
"servile" to Shah.



The bench passed the direction after senior counsel
Ram Jethmalani appearing for Shah and Ranjit Kumar for the
State Government insisted that certain material relied upon by
the agency to charge the accused have not been furnished to
them.



"It is wholly inconsistent with any principles,
principles of natural justice or the Indian Evidence Act,"
Jethmalani said during the arguments.



He submitted that the CBI had claimed 200 complaints
of extortion registered against the accused but there was no
evidence to link Shah to any of the complaints.



CBI`s senior counsel K T S Tulsi argued that
observations and opinions expressed by the investigating
officers which is part of the case diary and status report
cannot be divulged to the accused at this stage.



"We will not use anything against you which is not
supplied to you," the bench told Jethmalani while directing
the CBI to furnish copies.
Besides, the state government, the apex court had
earlier notices to Shah and 18 others including suspended IPS
officers-D G Vanzara (DIG), Rajkumar Pandiyan (SP), both from
Gujarat cadre, and M N Dinesh (SP) from Rajasthan cadre.



The CBI alleged in its application that "there was
open servility and excessive demonstration of favourable and
partisan attitude to Shri Amit Shah by the learned Additional
Chief Judicial Magistrate.



"He was granted exemption from appearance even without
giving a hearing to the CBI," the agency claimed.



The CBI alleged that it received more than 200
complaints of extortion, threats and other serious offences
committed by the accused politician and police officers.



"The atmosphere in Gujarat is quite vitiated and
demoralising for the witnesses as well as the investigating
officers.



"Hence, it has urged the apex court to transfer the
case from the court of the Additional Chief MM, CBI, Mirzapur,
Ahmedabad to the court concerned at Mumbai or any other
state," the CBI had said.



The CBI alleged that since the accused and the victim
belonged to different communities, there were "communal
overtones" and the atmosphere was not conducive to a fair and
impartial trial.



"There is a surcharged tension in the area and the
atmosphere in the state of Gujarat is not conducive to fair
and impartial trial.
"Because in the course of investigations, spread over
5 years, a bitter communal twist to the incident is
discernible from the beginning. The fact that the perpetrators
by and large are members of one community, they come from a
particular background and some important witnesses/victims
are by and large from the other community.



"The fact that a former Home Minister and senior
police officials are accused itself has the effect of
terrorising the minds of the witnesses. (This is) coupled with
the over a dozen instances where the witnesses have been
pressurised to resile from their statements," the CBI claimed.



According to the CBI, relatives of some of the accused
happened to be public prosecutors and even judges in the
state`s lower judiciary.



The CBI alleged that witnesses have been threatened
and kidnapped in the past, making it impossible to hold a free
and fair trial in the state.



It alleged that several types of pressure tactics were
being employed to derail the probe from reaching the real
culprits due to involvement of high-profile people as accused
in the case.
The application said that suspended DSP N K Amin, an
accused, suffered a fracture after he was attacked by an
inmate of the Sabarmati Jail after he refused to retract from
his decision to turn an approver in the case.



The agency alleged that Amit Shah met his followers
in the Sabarmati Jail and even sat in the official chair of
the jail superintendent. Though report was sent by the CBI to
the Additional DGP, Prison and the Additional Chief Secretary,
Home, on the issue, no action was taken, it claimed.



"This can have a serious adverse impact on the ability
of the court to discover the truth and there is every
likelihood that the witnesses may feel inhibited in deposing
against the powerful minister and the senior police officials
in the state, in view of the looming threat of intimidation,"
the CBI said.



The agency further claimed that the investigating
agency is faced "with an extremely hostile state machinery
including the state government and the local police. It is
unable to prosecute the trial without facing hindrance and
hurdles at every juncture.



PTI



First Published: Friday, January 28, 2011 - 00:44

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