Mumbai: A special CBI court on Thursday discharged senior BJP leader and Rajasthan's former home minister Gulabchand Kataria and marble trader Vimal Patni from the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter killing cases, citing "insufficient" evidence.
"There is no sufficient ground to proceed against the accused," special CBI judge MB Gosavi said as he discharged the two from the case.
Kataria is the second top politician after BJP president Amit Shah who had been charge-sheeted in the two cases but will not stand trial after relief from the court.
Shah, who was Minister of State for Home when the alleged staged encounters took place, was discharged on December 30.
According to CBI chargesheet, gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh wanted to spread his extortion racket in Rajasthan and had demanded Rs 24 crore as protection money from Patni who then approached Kataria for help.
Kataria allegedly got in touch with Shah who later allegedly plotted the entire operation with the help of Gujarat police, the charge sheet said, claiming Rajasthan's former minister was the link between Patni and the present BJP chief.
However, the special judge, while discharging the duo, held that there was no evidence to show any link between Patni and Kataria.
"There is also no evidence to show that Kataria met Shah in connection with the encounter," observed judge Gosavi, adding there was no sufficient ground for CBI to book Patni and Kataria for murder and conspiracy.
The judge rejected the statements of CBI witnesses Prajapati and Azam Khan, close aides of Sheikh, on which the investigating agency had relied to chargesheet them.
Prajapati and Khan had claimed they overheard the conversation between two police officers that Patni-owned RK Marble spent a lot of money to get Sheikh eliminated.
Ahead of the meeting between Sayeed and Modi, Presidents of both the parties -- Mehbooba Mufti of PDP and Amit Shah of BJP, met here on Wednesday after which they announced formation of a coalition government in the state.
Shah had tweeted after the meeting that "glory will be restored in the 'Jewel of the Crown', BJP-PDP Govt will take J&K to new heights by ensuring good governance and development."
Sayeed will also hold the portfolio of Home department which has been traditionally held by the Chief Minister since 1953. Nirmal Singh from BJP is expected to be the Deputy Chief Minister having the portfolio of Planning.
The December 23 election results saw a highly-fractured mandate with PDP emerging as single largest party with 28 MLAs followed by BJP with 25. Erstwhile allies National Conference and Congress ended with 15 and 12 seats respectively.
BJP and PDP, which have been in negotiations for nearly two months now, have sorted out all the differences over Article 370, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, resettlement of West Pakistan Refugees and holding of talks with Pakistan and separatist leaders of the state.
Highly-placed sources said the document prepared by the two sides mainly focuses on development and providing job opportunities to youths.
The document also lists ways and means for rehabilitation of nearly 60,000 Kashmiri Pandit families who had left the Kashmir Valley after the onset of militancy in early 1990s.
On Article 370, while BJP has given no written assurance as demanded by PDP, the document is expected to say that both parties will respect the aspirations of the people of the state within the Constitution, the sources indicated.
The proposed document may also touch upon the issue of more than 25,000 families of West Pakistani refugees by terming it a humanitarian issue.
The other issues include handing over of hydel projects to the state government and vacating of land and buildings by the Army in the Valley.