A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday once again granted a day's exemption from appearance to Amit Shah, BJP leader and a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Shah is one of the accused in the alleged fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati whose trials have been clubbed by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Shah, a former Gujarat Minister of State for Home, had sought a day’s exemption from personal appearance in the case through his advocate Robin Mogera.

The exemption application filed stated, “Mr. Shah is engaged in political work in New Delhi and therefore will not able to come to court.”

After taking the exemption on record, special judge B.H. Loya adjourned the matter till July 17. The court is also likely to hear the discharge application filed by Mr. Shah on July 14.

Twice in the past, Mr. Shah had sought exemption from personal appearance citing the same ground which his predecessor special CBI judge, J.T. Utpat had found inadequate. Mr. Utpat had even reprimanded Mr. Shah’s counsel for filing an exemption application without assigning any reason.

On June 20, while hearing the application, Mr. Utpat allowed the application but made a critical remark. “Every time you are giving this exemption application without assigning any reason,” he said.

Less then a week after he pulled up Mr. Shah’s counsel, Mr. Utpat was transferred to Pune on June 25. The judge was scheduled to pass his order on the discharge application filed by Mr. Shah in the case. But with the transfer of the judge, the matter has been adjourned. special judge B.H. Loya was appointed in his place.

A source in Mumbai sessions court told this reporter that around six months ago the judge had sought a transfer to be with his daughter who studies in Pune.

Tulsiram Prajapati, an eyewitness in the fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Kauser Bi in November 2005, was allegedly eliminated by the Gujarat police in December 2006.

In September, 2012 the CBI had filed a charge-sheet in a Gujarat court against 20 accused, including Mr. Shah, former State Director General of Police P.C. Pande, the then Inspector General of Police (CID) Geetha Johri and Deputy Superintendant of Police R.K. Patel.

At the request of the CBI, the Supreme Court had transferred the encounter case to the special CBI court in Mumbai.

More In: National | News | Mumbai