Bench shifts case to Mumbai to ensure a free and fair trial

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to cancel the bail granted to the former Gujarat Minister, Amit Shah, in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. However, it ordered the shifting of the case to Mumbai to ensure a free and fair trial.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ms. Ranjana Desai said: “On a careful consideration of all the material facts and circumstances, as also having regard to the past experience in the Sohrabuddin matter, we are convinced that in order to preserve the integrity of the trial it is necessary to shift it outside the State.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “The decision to transfer the case is not a reflection on the State judiciary and it is made clear that this court reposes full trust in the judiciary of the State. As a matter of fact, the decision to transfer the case outside the State is intended to save the trial court in the State from undue stress and to avoid any possible misgivings in the minds of the ordinary people about the case getting a fair trial in the State.”

The Bench said: “Mr. Tankha, senior advocate, appearing for the CBI, made a strong plea for cancelling the bail of Mr. Shah and transferring the Sohrabuddin case outside Gujarat. It was submitted on its behalf that Mr. Shah presided over an extortion racket. In his capacity as the Minister for Home, he was in a position to place his henchmen, top-ranking policemen, at positions where they could sub-serve and safeguard his interests. He was part of the larger conspiracy to kill Sohrabuddin and, later on, his wife, and finally Tulsiram Prajapati, as he [the latter] was a witness to the abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife by the police party.”

CBI allegations lies: Jethmalani

The Bench, however, noted that senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Mr. Shah, had submitted that the CBI’s allegations against his client were no more than a pack of lies.

Mr. Jethmalani submitted that the court’s direction that the investigation be handed over to the CBI gave a handle to the Central government to wreak political vendetta on the democratically elected government in Gujarat. The CBI was being used to frame up his client in a completely false case.

The Bench said: “At this stage, we do not wish to express any opinion on the submissions made from the two sides lest any remark made in the order might cause prejudice to either the accused or the prosecution in the trial. We are not inclined to cancel the bail granted to Amit Shah about two years ago.”

However, it directed him to give an undertaking to the trial court that he would not commit any breach of the conditions of the bail bond and not try to influence any witnesses or tamper with the prosecution evidence in any manner.

It further directed that Mr. Shah should report to the CBI office every alternate Saturday at 11.00 a.m.