The special CBI court on Wednesday rejected an application for remand of the former Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, in the Soharabuddin fake encounter case, stating the investigating agency did not properly avail itself of the opportunities it had to question him.
Judge A. Y. Dave said the CBI had an opportunity to question Mr. Shah for a day after he was placed under arrest and before he was required to be produced in the court. But the CBI preferred to directly produce him before the court and sought his judicial custody instead of seeking remand at that stage. Later on an application, the court allowed the CBI to question Mr. Shah inside the Sabarmati central jail for eight hours a day for three days, but the agency did not avail itself of the opportunity in full.
The court accepted the arguments of Supreme Court advocate Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Mr. Shah, that it would be against the law to grant remand after the charge sheet had been filed against him. Once the charge sheet was filed, the accused could be kept only in judicial custody and not in police custody, he argued.
The CBI filed the charge sheet in the special CBI court naming Mr. Shah a co-accused two days before he was placed under arrest on July 25, when he presented himself before the agency in response to its summons for questioning.
CBI to appeal decision
CBI sources said the agency would move the higher court against the rejection of the remand application.
Meanwhile, Rubabuddin Sheikh, brother of Soharabuddin, filed a petition in the special CBI court of G. K. Upadhyaya, requesting permission to become a party to the hearing on Mr. Shah's bail application.
He said Mr. Shah might try to influence witnesses in the fake encounter case in his favour.
The court has fixed the hearing on Mr. Rubabuddin's petition, along with Mr Shah's bail application, for August 11.
In another development, the CBI called for questioning the retired inspector V. I. Solanki, who at one time was investigating the Sohrabuddin case. Mr. Solanki had written to the then CID (Crime) head, O. P. Mathur, seeking permission for travelling to Rajasthan to question Tulsiram Prajapati — said to be a key witness in the Sohrabuddin case — who was lodged in the Udaipur jail. Not only Mr. Solanki was refused permission but Prajapati was also killed in yet another alleged fake encounter a few days after the former wrote the letter.
Mr. Mathur was among those summoned by the CBI for questioning but was yet to appear before it.