Former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria on Tuesday appeared before a local court in response to the summons issued by it after the CBI filed a supplementary charge sheet against him in the Soharabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
Besides Mr. Kataria, RK Marble Director Vimal Patni also appeared in the court, while Andhra Pradesh-based IPS officer N. Balasubraminiam and Inspector Shrinivas Rao filed an exemption application.
“We told the court that all the four accused have filed bail applications in the special CBI court and the case should be adjourned till the fate of their bail applications are decided,” said special CBI prosecutor Ejaz Khan.
The special CBI court had granted interim protection from arrest to Mr. Kataria, Mr. Patni, Mr. Balasubramaniam and Mr. Rao till June 14. The metropolitan court on Tuesday adjourned the case till June 21.
According to the charge sheet filed on May 14 against Mr. Kataria and three others, Sheikh demanded Rs. 24 crore from Patni as protection money and this was the prime reason that he was eliminated.
The CBI earlier also said it was Sheikh who wanted to spread his extortion racket in Rajasthan and in order to get a good hold over the state he demanded the protection money. The investigating agency also said Mr. Kataria was the link between Mr. Patni and former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah.
According to CBI, after coming in contact with Mr. Patni, Mr. Shah planned the entire encounter operation with the help of Gujarat Police.
The Supreme Court on September 27 last year had ordered the transfer of Sheikh encounter case to Maharashtra after the CBI said witnesses were being intimidated and the trial could not be held in a free and fair manner in Gujarat.
Mr. Shah, who was the Minister of State for Home in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, stepped down after his name surfaced in the staged encounter killing. Shah won the Assembly election held in Gujarat in December last year.
Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi were allegedly abducted by Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad and killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.
Tulsiram Prajapati, a key witness to the encounter, was allegedly killed by police at Chapri village in Banaskantha district in December 2006.
CBI had alleged Shah was the ‘kingpin’ of the conspiracy in the encounter episode in which most of the accused are policemen, some of them IPS officers. He was arrested in July 2010, but released on bail after spending three months in jail.