The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to furnish the Gujarat government and the accused with documents being relied upon by it for transferring outside the state the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case trial allegedly involving former State Minister Amit Shah.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha in an order asked the CBI to furnish the State government, Mr. Shah and other accused with copies of certain portions from the first status report submitted by the agency to the court in June last year.
The Supreme Court passed the direction while posting to February 23, hearing of the agency’s plea for transfer of the case on the ground that the trial could not be held in a free and fair atmosphere as even the judge hearing it had become “servile” to Mr. Shah.
The bench passed the direction after senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appearing for Mr. Shah and Ranjit Kumar for the State government insisted that certain material relied upon by the agency to charge the accused have not been furnished to them.
“It is wholly inconsistent with any principles, principles of natural justice or the Indian Evidence Act,” Mr. Jethmalani said during the arguments.
He submitted that the CBI had claimed 200 complaints of extortion registered against the accused but there was no evidence to link Mr. Shah to any of the complaints.
CBI’s senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi argued that observations and opinions expressed by the investigating officers which is part of the case diary and status report cannot be divulged to the accused at this stage.
“We will not use anything against you which is not supplied to you,” the bench told Mr. Jethmalani while directing the CBI to furnish copies.
Besides, the State government, the Supreme Court had earlier issued notices to Mr. Shah and 18 others including suspended IPS officers — D.G. Vanzara (DIG), Rajkumar Pandiyan (SP), both from Gujarat cadre, and M.N. Dinesh (SP) from Rajasthan cadre.
The CBI alleged in its application that “there was open servility and excessive demonstration of favourable and partisan attitude to Shri Amit Shah by the learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate.
“He was granted exemption from appearance even without giving a hearing to the CBI,” the agency claimed.
The CBI alleged that it received more than 200 complaints of extortion, threats and other serious offences committed by the accused politician and police officers.
“The atmosphere in Gujarat is quite vitiated and demoralising for the witnesses as well as the investigating officers.
“Hence, it has urged the Supreme Court to transfer the case from the court of the Additional Chief MM, CBI, Mirzapur, Ahmedabad to the court concerned at Mumbai or any other State,” the CBI had said.