Verdict in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case today

Verdict in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case today

More than a decade after the twin encounters of gangsters Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat snowballed into a major political issue, a designated CBI court is all set to deliver its verdict on Friday.

Additional Sessions Judge S J Sharma, who presides over a special CBI court, had fixed December 21 as the date of judgement.

Sohrabuddin, a notorious gangster with links to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistani spy agency ISI, was conspiring to assassinate an "important political leader," presumably the then Gujarat Chief Minister and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While Sohrabuddin was reportedly killed in a fake encounter on November 26, 2005, Tulsiram too, was killed in a similar fashion a year later on December 28, 2006. And, since Kausar Bi was a witness to the abduction of Sohrabuddin and possibly Tulsiram, she was raped and murdered.

Incidentally, an important witness, Azam Khan had claimed during his deposition that Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram were involved in the murder of the then Gujarat Minister of State for Home and senior BJP leader Haren Pandya, who was shot dead on March 26, 2003.
Both encounters were carried out by the ATS of the Gujarat police.

The Gujarat CID initially was entrusted to investigate the encounters, however, the Supreme Court asked the CBI to further investigate the case and shifted the trial to Mumbai.

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, the then Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, then deputy Inspector General D G Vanzara, who was often referred to as an "encounter specialist," SP Dinesh MN and 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 Superintendents of Police, Senior Inspectors, Inspector, 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 CrPC, all the accused had claimed innocence and had said they were arrested because of the rivalry of top police officials and the then prevailing political scenario.

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.

Judge to take a call on witness applications

Special Judge S J Sharma would on Friday take a call on the application of two witnesses, who had sought re-examination.

The application has been filed by Azam Khan, a gangster currently lodged in a jail in Rajasthan and Mahendra Zala, a petrol pump owner.

Azam Khan has stated that he had been tortured for nearly 20 days before he appeared before the court, and because of the threats, he could not name several IPS officers and politicians involved in the case.

"My testimony is incomplete and I may be recalled as a witness," he told the court and also claimed that one of the accused police officers, Abdul Rehman, threatened him on the day of deposition.

Zala has told the court his statement was recorded under section 164 of the CrPC, but it was not furnished in the court.