CBI could not connect dots because of hostile witnesses

Important and crucial witnesses turning hostile resulted in the CBI falling apart in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh-Tulsiram Prajapati twin fake encounter cases and the brutal rape-murder of Kausar Bi. File photo

Important and crucial witnesses turning hostile resulted in the CBI falling apart in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh-Tulsiram Prajapati twin fake encounter cases and the brutal rape-murder of Kausar Bi.

The CBI, in its chargesheets, had listed 700-odd witnesses.

During the trial, 210 witnesses were examined of which nearly half - 92 - of them had turned hostile. In some of the case, the statements of witnesses were recorded before Magistrate under section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure.

Because of hostile witnesses, the CBI could not connect the dots involving the three murders and the chain of events could not be established.

In fact, earlier this month, while concluding the final arguments, Special Public Prosecutor BP Raju said: "From 2005-07, there was no probe, then Gujarat State CID-Crime conducted the investigation... CBI came to picture in 2010..... now it is a matter of 12 to 13 years.... several witnesses had turned hostile and had not supported us."

When Additional Sessions Judge SJ Sharma on Friday acquitted all the 22 accused, he made a mention of hostile witnesses. "The CBI made all efforts, brought the witnesses but many of them turned hostile.... it is not the fault of Public Prosecutor if witnesses do not speak.... three main witnesses had turned hostile," he said.

A family that was travelling in the same bus as Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi and associate Tulsiram, had earlier gave a statement but in CBI court retracted the statement. The driver of the bus who initially said that an SUV overtook the bus but later and then people boarded the bus and took the trio away, later denied the same in the court. The bus cleaner and tour agency operator too retracted their statement.

The owner of Disha farm and its employee, where Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi were kept after abduction too denied the same. 

The sister of a gangster, who was an associate of Sohrabuddin, too denied having met the couple in Hyderabad.

A police constable and driver, who was throughout the chain of events from the abduction of the couple to confinement to the burning of the body of Kausar Bi, recorded his statement before a Magistrate but in CBI court, during cross-examination, he retracted.

In the case of Tulsiram's encounter, it could not be established as to why the then ATS chief DG Vanzara called one of the officers to cancel his leave and report on duty.

Twin encounter case saw four judges

The trial of twin encounter cases involving gangsters Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati saw four special CBI Judges. In fact,  Additional Sessions Judge SJ Sharma,  who on Friday delivered,  the verdict retires on 31 December. "This is my last judgment," he stated while pronouncing the verdict. 

The three previous judges were JT Utpat,  BH Loya and MB Gosavi. From 2012 to early 2014, Judge Utpat conducted the trial from whom Judge Loya took over,  but he died of  'heart attack' in Nagpur - that resulted in big political issue. After that Judge Gosavi took over. In June 2017, Judge Sharma took over and finished the trial. 

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CBI could not connect dots because of hostile witnesses

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