The special CBI court reserved its order on Monday on a plea for a ten-day remand of the former Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, in the high profile Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.
While noted Supreme Court advocate Ram Jethmalani appeared for Mr. Shah during the earlier hearing also, the CBI on Monday brought in another top advocate, K.T.S. Tulsi, to argue its case for a 10-day remand of the former Minister on the ground that he did not cooperate during the interrogation inside the Sabarmati central jail last week.
Mr. Tulsi informed the court that the CBI never sought transfer of the case to a court outside Gujarat, an emotive issue out of which Chief Minister Narendra Modi was trying to make political capital during the last few days. Mr. Tulsi said the CBI had full respect for the courts in Gujarat and its judicial system. “We are just interested in fair trial wherever it is held.”
With the CBI's remand application coming up for hearing, the court postponed till August 11 the hearing on Mr. Shah's bail application, which was scheduled to be taken up on Monday. Mr Shah was earlier sent to judicial custody till August 7.
Mr. Jethmalani, who opposed the remand plea on the ground that the CBI had already been given an opportunity to question Mr. Shah, later told media persons that he would move the Supreme Court seeking recall of its order handing over the Sohrabuddin encounter case to the agency. “Do not ask me at this stage on what ground and on what evidences we will seek the ouster of the CBI from investigation. In less than a fortnight, you will hear of a bombshell,” he promised.
Advancing the case for the remand, Mr. Tulsi argued that two witnesses in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case had been killed and Mr. Shah's involvement in it had “come to the fore.” He said the CBI had presumed that Mr. Shah, as a former Minister, would cooperate in the investigations. “But that has not happened.”
Mr. Tulsi said Mr. Shah was the prime accused in the alleged extortion racket which prima facie had the involvement of top State government personnel, police officers and some criminals. He claimed that four witnesses had testified before the CBI that people were being threatened action under the deterrent Prevention of Anti-social Activities Act if they did not pay ransom amount. All these issues required clarifications from Mr. Shah, he said.
Mr. Jethmalani raised the question of propriety in the CBI seeking remand after filing the charge-sheet against the former Minister. Once the charge-sheet was filed, the court could send the accused only to judicial custody and not on remand, he said.