The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh by the Gujarat police in 2005 and the subsequent death of his wife Kausarbi.
Rejecting the State’s stand that no CBI inquiry could be ordered after the filing of charge sheet, a Bench consisting of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam held that the investigation by the Gujarat police could not be said to be satisfactorily held.
The Bench said: “In this case, taking into consideration the grave allegations made against the high police officials of the State in respect of which some of them have already been in custody, we feel it proper and appropriate and in the interest of justice even at this stage, that is, when the charge sheet has already been submitted, the investigation shall be transferred to the CBI for proper and thorough investigation of the case.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Chatterjee said: “We feel that all concerned, including the relatives of the deceased, may feel that the investigation was not proper and in that circumstances it would be fit and proper that the writ petitioner and the relatives of the deceased should be assured that an independent agency should look into the matter and that would lend the final outcome of the investigation credibility, however, faithfully the local police may carry out the investigation, particularly when the gross allegations have been made against the high police.”
The former DIG of Police, D.B. Vanzara, and Rajkumar Pandiyan of Gujarat; Dinesh M.N. (of Rajasthan) are the main accused in the encounter killing. Another Gujarat police officer N.K. Ameen is also an accused.
Sohrabuddin, Kausarbi and another person were picked up by the police of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh from a bus when they were going to Sangli in Maharashtra from Hyderabad on November 22, 2005. He was gunned down allegedly in a fake encounter by the Gujarat police’s Anti-Terrorist Squad, which claimed that he had come to the city to eliminate Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The accused were alleged to have killed Kausarbi and their accomplice Tulsi Ram Prajapati to destroy evidence. Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh moved the Supreme Court for a CBI probe.
The Bench held that it could not be said that after the charge sheet was submitted in a case, the court was not empowered to order a CBI probe. “In an appropriate case when the court feels that the investigation by the police authorities is not in the proper direction and in order to do complete justice in the case and as high police officials are involved in the said crime, it was always open to the court to hand over the investigation to an independent agency like the CBI.”
The Bench asked the CBI to complete the investigation in six months and asked the police authorities of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan to properly cooperate with the agency in the probe.