Sohrabuddin case: Jethmalani questions SC order

Last Updated: Friday, August 13, 2010 - 00:10

New Delhi: Seeking to give a new twist in
the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing case, noted
lawyer Ram Jethmalani questioned the Supreme Court order for
CBI probe into it saying it was passed by a bench headed by a
judge who was himself under the agency`s scanner in a criminal
case.

Injecting some drama into the case, he contended that
former Gujarat Minister Amit Shah was dragged into it by the
CBI as "the entire conspiracy was hatched at the highest level
to destroy him and the Chief Minister (Narendra Modi)".

"On January 12, Justice Tarun Chatterjee (since
retired), who was the part of the Bench, was himself being
investigated by the CBI. When CBI was investigating the
judge, it was highly improper to pass such an order,"
Jethmalani, appearing for Shah, a close aide of Chief
Minister Narendra Modi, submitted before the apex court.

However, his submission evoked strong objections from
the Bench and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who said
such remarks cannot be made against the former judge and he
(SG) has to protect him.

He said if such was the case, Gujarat Government
should have pointed this out when the order for CBI probe was
delivered and that Jethmalani should desist from making
accusation against the judge who has retired.

Jethmalani said Gujarat Government at that time was
not aware of the fact that Justice Chatterjee was under the
lens of the CBI.

While there was exchange of words, a Bench comprising
Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha, pacified them but expressed
its displeasure that the name of a former apex court judge has
been dragged in such a manner.

"Don`t talk about members of the Bench. It is unfair.
Your statement hurts us. It will hurt you and it will hurt
your great reputation," the Bench said.

Jethamalani shot back "I have no reputation to lose.
If it is so, I don`t care," he told the Bench which granted
three months extension to CBI to complete the probe in the
case by rejecting Shah`s plea that he should be given an
opportunity to respond to the agency`s plea seeking six more
months to carry out its investigation.

He made the statement on Justice Chatterjee in
response to the Bench`s question that what were the legal
remedies available to him for recalling or setting aside the
January 12 direction for CBI probe in the case.

"How will you get the order quashed or set aside. We
don`t know. How will you do that. I am unable to conceive that
how that order will be quashed. If you have some idea you can
do that (can argue)," Justice Alam said.

The Bench did not accept the contention of Jethmalani
that CBI should not be granted any more extension to probe the
case as the chargesheet has been filed only after the
completion of the investigation.

"Today, we proceed on the basis of our order passed by
us on January 12 in which CBI was directed to investigate the
killing of Soharabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and also the
alleged possibility of larger conspiracy.

"Since the investigation is not complete, we give
three months to the CBI to complete it and file the status
report in a sealed cover," the Bench said.

The Bench rejected the plea of Jethmalani that he
should be given opportunity to discuss issues with
Subramanium, who is amicus curiae in the matter

He said being an amicus, the SG is not only the friend
of the court but also the friend of all the members of the
Bar, who are appearing as officers of the court in the case.

During the hearing, Jethamalani was also provoked by
senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who was appearing for
Sohrabuddin`s brother and accused him of giving political
colour to the hearing in the apex court.

"It is a cheap politics. Don`t insult the petitioner
who is the brother of Soharabuddin and brother-in-law of
Kauser Bi," Dave said when Jethmalani was submitting that CBI
has mishandled the case with the intention of demolishing the
then Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The allegations and counter-allegations between the
two advocates reached a point when Dave flung the file near
Jethmalani prompting the Bench to say that it was not willing
to hear the case in such an atmosphere.

"We will stop hearing you, We cannot be a mute
spectator. Hearing cannot take place in this atmosphere. It is
something not acceptable. We cannot work in this atmosphere,"
the Bench said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, August 13, 2010 - 00:10

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