Sohrabuddin case: HC dismisses pleas challenging discharge of Gujarat, Rajasthan police personnel

Petitions were filed challenging a lower court’s orders discharging DG Vanzara and MN Dinesh

Updated - September 10, 2018 04:15 pm IST

Published - September 10, 2018 02:00 pm IST - Mumbai

D.G. Vanzara. File photo

D.G. Vanzara. File photo

The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed the pleas challenging the discharge of former Deputy Inspector-General of Gujarat DG Vanzara and Dinesh MN from Rajasthan and Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandian in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and aide Tulsiram Prajapati.

A single Bench of Justice AM Badar was hearing the bunch of petitions filed by Sohrabuddin's brother Rubabuddin Shaikh challenging a lower court’s orders discharging Mr. Vanzara, then Deputy Inspector General of Police, Anti Terrorism Squad, and Mr. Dinesh from the case. The CBI also challenged the discharge of Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod and Gujarat police officer Dr. Narendra Amin.

The court dismissed all petitions challenging the discharge of policemen from Gujarat and Rajasthan and allowed Gujarat IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal to be discharged in the case. The Bench quashed and set aside the lower court order rejecting his discharge.

Mr. Shaikh’s plea pointed out, “there is insurmountable evidence against Mr. Vanzara which undisputedly proves the existence of a prima facie case against him. The lower court judge not only chose to discard the testimony of more than 40 prosecution witnesses, he also completely ignored the irrefutable evidence on record, such as the call detail record between Mr. Vanzara and other accused persons.”

On August 1, 2017, the sessions court discharged Mr. Vanzara and Mr. Dinesh in the case, saying, “Considering the quality of material on record against Mr. Vanzara and taking into consideration the entire prosecution story, to my mind it is clear that there is no prima facie material against him to connect him to the abduction followed by the killing of Sohrabuddin, Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati as one of the main conspirator. In fact, even the prosecution has not whispered the presence of this accused at the spot on the date and time of abduction followed by the said killing.

“In view of such fact and in the absence of evidence of his involvement in any manner, I am of the view that the role attributed against Mr. Vanzara as reflected does definitely come within the sphere of discharge of his official duty. Consequently I hold that prior sanction to prosecute this accused was required as contemplated under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure [Prosecution of Judges and public servants].

“Admittedly prior sanction to prosecute against him needs to be dropped and it therefore stands dropped.”

The court also held, “Mere conversation between Vanzara at one side and Vipul Aggarwal's and Ashish Pandya [IPS officer from Gujarat] on other side is not sufficient to rope Mr. Vanzara in the killing of Tulsiram Prajapati.”

On discharging Mr. Dinesh, the court had said, “Considering the quality of material on record against him and taking into consideration entire prosecution story, to my mind, it is clear that there is no prima facie material against him to connect him to killing of Sohrabuddin and Prajapati much less as one of the conspirator.”

The court also held that prior sanction was not sought for prosecuting him under Section 197 CrPC.

The court has discharged 15 accused out of the 38 in the case while the lower court is hearing the trial.

On November 23, 2005, Sohrabuddin, a local gangster, was travelling on a Hyderabad-Sangli bus along with his wife Kausar Bi and his trusted lieutenant Prajapati when they were allegedly abducted by a team of policemen attached to Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorism Squad and members of the Special Task Force from Rajasthan. The couple was allegedly detained at a private farm house near Gandhinagar and two days later, Sheikh was killed allegedly in a fake encounter. Kausarbi and Tulsiram too were later killed. The case was transferred to Mumbai on the orders of the Supreme Court.

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