As CBI makes final arguments in the alleged fake encounter case, judge raps agency for not being thorough in investigation

Special judge SJ Sharma presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter case tore into the CBI’s final arguments, which began on Monday and lasted for barely two hours.

He questioned the prosecution, led by Special Public Prosecutor BP Raju, about loopholes in not just the CBI’s investigation but also those aspects which were probed by the Gujarat ATS and CID, before the CBI took over the casein2010.Atotalof92outof210witnesses examined in the case have turned hostile.

Despite CBI’s original case being that key conspirators in the encounter are then MoS Home, Amit Shah, then ATS chief DG Vanzara, then Dy SP ATS Rajkumar Pandiyan and SP Udaipur Dinesh MN, their names were not mentioned by the prosecutor. All the above accused have been discharged from the case.

On November 26, 2005 a local criminal from Madhya Pradesh, Sohrabuddin Sheikh was allegedly killed in an encounter in a joint operation by the Gujarat ATS and Rajasthan Police. The ATS claimed he was in the city to kill a prominent political leader. The CBI concluded that Sohrabuddin was abducted from a bus on November 22 near the Telangana border along with his wife Kausar Bi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati, and then killed at the encounter scene three days later.

A year later, on December 28, 2006, Sohrabuddin’s close aide Tulsiram Prajapati, was also killed after he allegedly escaped from police’s custody on December 27, 2018 while returning from Ahmedabad to Udaipur Central Prison. The CBI concluded that Tulsiram wasn’t travelling on the train with the police. “So where did he go from Ahmedabad?” the judge asked, pointing out how no one had investigated that aspect.

It is CBI’s contention that Tulsiram, under pressure from then ATS chief DG Vanzara, gave away their location due to which Sohrabuddin was abducted. “Where is the evidence on record to show Tulsiram gave in to Vanzara?” the judge asked.

When Raju argued that tickets were planted on Sohrabuddin to make the encounter look genuine, the judge was quick to ask, “You say it is fake and planted. Has any effort been made to find out who planted the ticket? There were 38 accused with you, were they even interrogated on this?”

The judge also raised doubts about the CBI’s case that Tulsiram was the third person on the bus. During the probe, CBI had examined people from whom the bus tickets were purchased. But the judge said there was no explanation as to why these tickets were purchased from two different people, if all the three – Sohrabuddin, Tulsiram and Kauser Bi – were travelling together.

BP Raju then pointed at Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin’ s deposition, where he said he met Tulsiram in 2006 in Ujjain jail, where Tulsiram confessed to being the third person on the bus during the abduction. “The third person was never disclosed till the CBI took over the case in 2010,” the judge remarked. He said that there was no explanation why Rubabuddin didn’t mention this meeting with Tulsiram to the Supreme Court between 2006-10. It was on Rubabuddin’s petition, that the SC transferred the case to the CBI for investigation.

Defence lawyer SV Raju, appearing for one of the alleged shooters PI NH Dhabi and accused ML Parmar, said that none of the facts against his clients have been established with proper evidence.

While forensic experts have said that the bullets from Sohrabuddin’s encounter scene are a match with Dhabi’s service revolver, Raju argued that there is no evidence to show the revolver was in Dhabi’s possession that night. He further said that the officer from whom the revolver was seized, was not examined by the CBI. Raju also argued that there was no evidence to show there was a conspiracy in the case. “There is no evidence of abduction, conspiracy or murder of Sohrabuddin.” Arguments are likely to continue in the case today.

Mumbai Mirror