SC to hear CBI plea for transfer of Sohrabuddin case

Appearing before a bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai, Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha alleged that the atmosphere in Gujarat was so vitiated that the CBI was forced to record statements of the witnesses in Mumbai.

"We are forced to record the statements of the witnesses in Mumbai because of the threat received by them. We are not able to assure them any protection because the CBI does not have that much of manpower. It is the duty of the State police to provide protection. But they are not doing so.

"If those who are supposed to be the protectors are not giving any protection what can we do?," he submitted before the bench.

Tankha also reiterated the CBI's allegation that the trial judge had become "servile" to the former Home Minister and urged the apex court to transfer the case to any other State to protect the "Majesty of law."

"There was open servility and excessive demonstration of favourable and partisan attitude to Amit Shah by the learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate.

"He was granted exemption from appearance even without giving a hearing to the CBI," Tankha claimed.

Sohrabuddin and his wife were allegedly abducted by cops of the Gujarat's Anti-Terrorist Squad(ATS) from Hyderabad and killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.

Tulsiram Prajapati said to be an accomplice of Sohrabuddin was also subsequently eliminated by the ATS, to destroy evidence as he was an eye witness, the CBI has alleged.

Tankha cited the Supreme Court's earlier decision to transfer out of Ujjain the murder case of Prof Sabarhwal to Nagpur as the witnesses were allegedly intimidated by the accused who owed allegiance to the ruling BJP.

"The court has the overall duty to protect the majesty of law," he said, contending that two of the witnesses Kauser Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin, and another accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati, were also killed in "fake encounters" by the Gujarat police to destroy evidence.

According to the CBI it had received more than 200 complaints of extortion, threats and other serious offences allegedly committed by the accused politician and police officers and said Sohrabbuddin's killing was part of the extortion syndicate headed by Amit Shah.

"The atmosphere in Gujarat is quite vitiated and demoralising for the witnesses as well as the investigating officers," the agency claimed and sought transfer of the case from the court of the Additional Chief MM, CBI, Mirzapur, Ahmedabad to Mumbai or any other state.

Besides the state government, the apex court had earlier issued notices to Shah and 18 others including suspended IPS officers-D G Vanzara (DIG), Rajkumar Pandiyan (SP), both from Gujarat cadre, and M N Dinesh (SP) from Rajasthan cadre.

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