Gujarat HC acquits ex-BJP MP, 6 others in RTI activist Amit Jethwa murder case

A division bench of Justices AS Supehia and Vimal K Vyas quashed the CBI court's order sentencing them to life imprisonment.
Last Updated : 06 May 2024, 07:21 IST
Last Updated : 06 May 2024, 07:21 IST

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Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Monday acquitted former BJP MP from Junagadh Dinu Bogha Solanki and six others in the 2010 RTI activist Amit Jethva murder case.

Quashing the judgement of the lower court, which had sentenced Solanki and others to life imprisonment, the division bench of justices A S Supehia and Vimal Vyas held, "...All efforts were made to see the truth is buried forever. The perpetrator succeeded in doing it and the trial court had conducted the trial with a preconceived notion of conviction."

While reading a portion of the judgement, the bench stated, "...the entire investigation, right from the inception of the offence, appears to be perfunctory and prejudiced. The prosecution failed to secure the confidence of witnesses."

The bench quashed and set aside judgement of the special CBI court which on July 11, 2019 had held Solanki and six others guilty of killing Jethva in front of Satyamev Complex opposite Gujarat high court.

Pronouncing the judgement, Justice Supehia read out excerpt from the judgement, stating, "Satyamev Jayate: Truth alone triumphs, a sanskrit text from Mandukya upanishad, 800-500 BC, is adorned as a dictum under the emblem of India. The instant case is reminicsed as an antithesis to Satyamev Jayate. Intriguingly, the assailant chose Satyamev Complex opposite high court to murder the RTI activist and litigant of PILs."

The bench stated while observing that "Investigation right from the inception appears to be an eye wash. Albeit, the complainant police constable was present a few feet away. He immediately started following the fleeing assailants, who were on their legs. First investigating officer arrived at the scene of the offence within 55 seconds and the top police official within 20 minutes. However, it is appalling and astounding that assailants were not apprehended and escaped...This speaks volumes on quick response and efforts to nab the assailants. All efforts are made to see that the truth is buried forever."

Jethva, an RTI activist, was shot dead on July 20, 2010 opposite the Gujarat High Court. Using information through RTI, he was exposing the alleged illegal mining activities in the Asiatic lions' habitat Gir forest.

In 2019, a special CBI court found Solanki and six others including his nephew Shiva Solanki, Shailesh Pandya, the shooter, Bahadursinh Vadher, Panchan G Desai, Sanjay Chauhan and Udaji Thakore guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The case has seen many twists and turns in the past. The case was first investigated by Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch which had given clean chit to Solanki and arrested the other six convicts. Jethva's father Bhikha moved the high court for further investigation. The high court handed over the probe to the CBI, which arrested Solanki and chargesheeted him for murder, and conspiracy among other charges as a main suspect.

Later the cases were clubbed together for trial. During the trial, many witnesses turned hostile following threats.

Jethva’s father moved the high court again seeking fresh trial on the ground that 105 witnesses out of a total of 195 had turned hostile. By then, the trial had concluded. The high court allowed his plea and ordered a fresh trial. Against this order, Solanki moved the Supreme Court which directed the trial court to recall only 26 key witnesses for fresh examination instead of a fresh trial.

Published 06 May 2024, 07:21 IST

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