Verdict in Sohrabuddin case on Dec 21

Verdict in Sohrabuddin case on Dec 21

Sohrabuddin Shaikh, Kausar Bi

More than a decade after it snowballed into a major political issue, a special CBI court on Friday fixed December 21 as the date for the final verdict of the twin encounter cases involving notorious criminals Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tusliram Prajapati and the rape-murder of Kausar Bi.

Additional Sessions Judge SJ Sharma, who is presiding over a special CBI court, said that he would deliver the judgement on December 21.

"I need around 14 days. I am sure I will finish it by December 21. If I don't complete by then, I will pass the judgement on December 24. But I am very sure that I will be able to complete my work by December 21," the Judge said.

The final arguments concluded last Wednesday — and since then, Judge Sharma has started the process of writing the judgement.

There were a total of 38 accused in the case — of which, 16 had been discharged including, the then Gujarat home minister and now BJP president Amit Shah, incumbent Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, then Deputy Inspector General DG Vanzara, who was often referred to as an "encounter specialist," SP Dinesh MN, SP Rajkumar Pandian. All the IPS officers arrested for the twin encounters have been discharged.

As of now, 22 accused are on the docks — which include, two deputy SPs, senior inspectors, inspectors, sub-inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors, head constables and constables of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

During the course of the trial, 210 witnesses were examined, of which, 92 had turned hostile.

While recording their statements under Section 313 of the CcPC, all the accused had claimed innocence and had said they were arrested because of the rivalry of top police officials and the prevailing political scenario at that time.

On the last day of the final arguments, CBI counsel B P Raju admitted to  "lacunae" in the central agency's investigation as they got the case five years after the alleged incidents.

"The Sohrabuddin encounter took place in 2005, the Tulsiram encounter in 2006... we came in picture in 2010," he had said.

In fact, some star witnesses turned hostile during the trial, hampering the CBI's case. 

"I don't blame the CID. I don't blame the CBI. There are statements and witnesses. If they come here and say something else, it's not your fault. You did your job... both sides did their job well... your work is over, my work starts now," the judge had said.

The CBI, however, had maintained that they have enough material to prove that both the encounters were genuine.

The defence counsels of the accused had stated that the prosecution had not been able to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to "further investigate" the cases and transferred the trial to Mumbai from Gujarat.

According to the CBI case, on November 23, 2005, a team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police abducted Sohrabuddin, Kausar Bi and Tulsiram, when they were on their way from Hyderabad to Sangli.

On November 25, Tulsiram was taken to Udaipur and arrested in a case. On November 26, Sohrabuddin was shot dead in an encounter between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

Kausar Bi was taken to Illol in Banaskantha district where she was raped and murdered, and her ashes were thrown into a river on November 29.

Meanwhile, Tulsiram — the closest associate of Sohrabuddin — had expressed fear to his life to jail inmates.

On 27 December, 2006, after a court hearing in Ahmedabad, while he was being taken to Rajasthan, he made an escape and on 28 December, he was shot dead near Ambaji town on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border.

According to the CBI, both encounters were fake.

Meanwhile, a prosecution witness Azam Khan, who too, is a criminal under custody, had indicated the role of Sohrabuddin in the murder of the then home minister Haren Pandya on March 26, 2003, at the instance of Vanzara.

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