In a setback to Modi government, Bench stands by its order for CBI probe

The Narendra Modi government suffered a setback with the Supreme Court refusing to review its order directing a CBI probe into the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case.

Acting on a writ petition filed by Prajapati’s mother Narmada Bai, a Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan, had in April last year directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the December 27/28, 2006 killing and file a report to the jurisdictional court/special court within six months of its receiving documents from the Gujarat government.

The Gujarat government sought review of the verdict contending that when the State had already filed a charge sheet in July 2010, a CBI probe ought not to have been ordered.

The same Bench dismissed the review petition on Thursday in the chambers as without merit, observing there was no ground to interfere with the earlier order.

While ordering the CBI probe, the court had said: “Prajapati was a witness to abduction of Sohrabuddin and [his wife] Kausarbi. Both oral and documentary evidence raises strong suspicion that the encounter was fake and stage-managed as predicted by Prajapati prior to his death in a number of communications.”

The court had said: “Although a charge sheet has been filed by Gujarat three-and-half years after the incident, that too after pronouncement of judgment in the Rubabuddin case [directing a CBI probe into the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case], and considering the nature of crime that has been allegedly committed not by any third party but by police personnel of Gujarat, we are satisfied that the investigation conducted and concluded in the present case by the State police cannot be accepted.”

The Bench said, “The fact is that in the case of murder of an associate of Prajapati, senior police officials and a senior politician [Amit Shah, former Minister] were accused which may shake the confidence of the public in investigation conducted by the State police. If the majesty of rule of law is to be upheld and if it is to be ensured that the guilty are punished in accordance with law notwithstanding their status and authority which they might have enjoyed, it is desirable to entrust the investigation to the CBI.”

(Sohrabuddin, an extortionist, and his wife were intercepted by the police as they were travelling by bus from Hyderabad to Sangli, Maharashtra, in November 2005. While Sohrabuddin was slain in the encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad subsequently, his wife was murdered two days later. Rubabuddin is Sohrabuddin’ brother.)