Rebuffed by the special court, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday moved the Gujarat High Court with a revision application to seek remand of the former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, for questioning.
The Supreme Court advocate, K. T. S. Tulsi, appeared on behalf of the CBI and advanced the same arguments that he had placed before the special CBI court earlier on Monday, requesting for remand because the CBI needed to question Mr. Shah on some important documents, letters and investigate some materials recovered from some laptops.
Notices to Gujarat, Shah
Justice Akil Kureshi issued notices to the Gujarat government and Mr. Shah and fixed Friday for further hearing in the case.
The revision application challenged the order delivered on Wednesday by the special CBI court judge, A. Y. Dave, rejecting the plea for remand of Mr. Shah on the ground that the agency had failed to fully utilise the time given to it for questioning the former minister and advised the CBI to approach the higher court.
Appearing before the single-Judge Bench, Mr. Tulsi submitted that the order of the special CBI Judge was “erroneous and lacked understanding of law.” He said the CBI had filed a case diary of the interrogation of Mr. Shah inside the Sabarmati Central Jail as permitted by the court. The diary was submitted in the court in a sealed cover “but the learned judge did not even open it and consider before passing the order” rejecting the remand plea.
Mr. Dave had rejected the CBI's demand and had agreed with Mr. Shah's advocate, Ram Jethmalani, that after filing of the charge-sheet in the case, the agency could only interrogate the accused in the judicial custody, if needed, and could not seek remand for further questioning.
Role in encounter case
Advancing the case for the remand, Mr. Tulsi had said two witnesses to the fake encounter death of Sohrabuddin Sheikh have already been killed and Mr. Shah's involvement in it had come to the fore. He had argued that the CBI had presumed that as a former minister, Mr. Shah would cooperate in the investigations but that had not happened necessitating further remand.
Meanwhile, the retired Additional Director General of Police, O. P. Mathur, who was the head of the Criminal Investigation Department (Crime) when it was initially investigating the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in 2007, appeared before the CBI on Thursday in response to its summons and was grilled for over nine hours. The CBI sources said, Mr. Mathur, who was believed to have tampered with the evidences, could be summoned again if necessary.
A crucial period
Mr. Mathur's tenure in the CID (Crime) was a crucial period in the Sohrabuddin investigation during which he was believed to have tried to influence the investigating officers to take the inquiry in a wrong direction and had also prevented his subordinate officials from questioning some crucial suspects. Mr. Mathur's predecessor in the CID (Crime), G. C. Raigar, who had already appeared before the CBI, had reportedly told the central agency about “political influences” to derail the investigation.
Mr. Raigar was stripped off his chief of the CID (Crime) post in a midnight shake-up of the police by the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and Mr. Mathur was brought in his place. The name of Mr. Mathur, who is now heading the newly set up Raksha Shakti University, a pet project of the Chief Minister after his retirement, had also figured in the broad daylight murder of the former Congress leader, Rauf Valliullah, by the slain former Ahmedabad don, Abdul Latif, in the early 1990s.
Meanwhile, the hearing on the bail plea of the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case accused and former Banaskantha District Superintendent of Police, Vipul Agrawal, was re-scheduled on Saturday by the Palanpur sessions court.