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CBI U-Turn against its own chargesheet in the Sohrabuddin case, the caged parrot syndrome?

Mihir Desai 21 Dec 2015


Illustration: Uday Mohite DNA

Mihir Desai, advocate for Sohrabuddin in Mumbai


In December, 2005 Rubabuddin Shaikh wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India complaining about the killing of his brother Sohrabuddin and the disappearance of his sister in law Kauser Bi at the hands of the Gujarat Police, the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Rajasthan Police.  The Court forwarded the letter to the Director General of Police for an enquiry. During the pendency of the enquiry Tulsiram Prajapati, a witness to the abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi was, also  killed in an encounter (extra-judicial killing). Rubabuddin approached the Supreme Court seeking a CBI investigation.

The Supreme Court first asked the Gujarat Police to investigate the matter. Certain police officers (prominently, Vanzara), were arrested. Charge sheets were filed and eight Action Taken Reports were produced before the Supreme Court by the State of Gujarat. Unsatisfied, the Supreme Court in 2010 came to the following conclusion:

“From the above factual discrepancies appearing in the 8 Action Taken Reports and from the Charge Sheet we therefore feel that the Police Authorities of the State of Gujarat had failed to carry out fair and impartial investigation as we initially wanted them to do."

The Supreme Court directed the CBI to carry out the investigation including on the issue of a larger conspiracy. The CBI started investigating the case and, on the basis of call records of the police officials and other evidence, submitted a chargesheet on 23.7.2010 in which Amit Shah was named as a co-conspirator. The chargesheet states that Amit Shah was the lynchpin in the conspiracy. Amit Shah was arrested. On 29.10.2010 Amit Shah was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court, The CBI appealed to the Supreme Court against this order. The bail was not cancelled but Amit Shah was asked to not enter Gujarat.

In its charge sheet, the CBI claimed that Amit Shah presided over an extortion racket and that it was under his pressure and at his behest that the Gujarat police tried to cover up his involvement in the killings. Phone records of the police officials at the time of killings of Sohrabuddin, Kauser Bi and Tulsi Prajapati were used to show that these police officers were in constant touch with Amit Shah. The trial was transferred to Mumbai.

Subsequently, Amit Shah filed a Discharge Application in the Sessions Court at Mumbai. The evidence that the prosecution had (CBI) was damning. G.C Raigar, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Home Guard, Gujarat who had the  Additional Charge of ADGP CID Crime, and was in charge of the  investigation into the case, had stated that Amit Shah personally told him not to involve high level police officials in the crime. Obviously if high level police officials were not involved, the link to Mr. Shah could not be established. The Patel brothers of Popular Builders, whose statements were also recorded, have stated that Amit Shah personally told them to give a false statement against Sohrabuddin and that they paid a large amount of money to a senior police officer for being paid to Mr. Shah so as to ensure that they are not falsely implicated in a crime.
There were also the call records between Amit Shah and the officers involved in the murder, during the killings. There were certain other allegations too against Mr. Shah.

It was the CBI’s investigation which led to his arrest and to the transfer of the case outside Gujarat...... Shockingly however, it chose not to challenge the order of the Sessions Court.

However, it was now 2014 and, by now the CBI had decided to do a U turn. The case was not effectively defended in the Sessions Court.  The Sessions Court discharged Amit Shah on 30.12.2014. According to me, there is sufficient material against Mr. Shah to put him on trial. It was the CBI’s investigation which led to his arrest and to the transfer of the case outside Gujarat. At the stage of discharge the Court is not required to weigh the evidence in detail. The Court is only required to see whether it is a fit case for proceeding on trial. CBI had found it a fit case to proceed on trial  by filing the charge sheet. In fact, ordinarily the CBI would have challenged the discharge order of the Sessions Court in the High Court - more so in a sensitive case like this where it had been appointed by the Supreme Court as the Investigating Agency and the trial had been transferred at the instance of the CBI due to the involvement of Amit Shah.

Shockingly however, it chose to not challenge the order of the Sessions Court. 

Rubabuddin,  Sohrabuddin’s brother challenged the order in the High Court.  He was the person who had brought the case to light 10 years ago by writing to the Supreme Court. He had diligently followed it up in the Supreme Court and in the Sessions Court for all these years. Suddenly, within months after filing against the discharge, he decided to withdraw the case from the High Court. I am reasonably certain that this was due to extreme pressure brought on him. I can never forget the terror in his eyes and the helplessness when he did it. The question still remains. Why did the CBI not adequately defend the case in the Sessions Court and why did it refuse to file an appeal. Is it the caged parrot syndrome?

SOHRABUDDIN CASE FILE

(The author  is a senior advocate in Mumbai)
 
References:
1. Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah called cops arrested for killing Tulsi Prajapati, http://www.tehelka.com/2010/07/gujarat-home-minister-amit-shah-called-cops-arrested-for-killing-tulsi-prajapati-2/
2. The Amit Shah Files, Charge, No Charge, February 16, 2015, Outlookindia http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-amit-shah-files/293300
3. Sohrabuddin case: How Patel bros were ‘fleeced’ http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sohrabuddin-case-how-patel-bros-were-fleeced-1420791 
4. CATCH NEWS (Rubabuddin) October 10 2015 :I was threatened before I withdrew case against Amit Shah: Rubabuddin http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/yes-i-was-threatened-before-i-withdrew-the-case-sohrabuddin-s-brother-1445261071.html

CBI U-Turn against its own chargesheet in the Sohrabuddin case, the caged parrot syndrome?


Illustration: Uday Mohite DNA

Mihir Desai, advocate for Sohrabuddin in Mumbai


In December, 2005 Rubabuddin Shaikh wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India complaining about the killing of his brother Sohrabuddin and the disappearance of his sister in law Kauser Bi at the hands of the Gujarat Police, the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the Rajasthan Police.  The Court forwarded the letter to the Director General of Police for an enquiry. During the pendency of the enquiry Tulsiram Prajapati, a witness to the abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi was, also  killed in an encounter (extra-judicial killing). Rubabuddin approached the Supreme Court seeking a CBI investigation.

The Supreme Court first asked the Gujarat Police to investigate the matter. Certain police officers (prominently, Vanzara), were arrested. Charge sheets were filed and eight Action Taken Reports were produced before the Supreme Court by the State of Gujarat. Unsatisfied, the Supreme Court in 2010 came to the following conclusion:

“From the above factual discrepancies appearing in the 8 Action Taken Reports and from the Charge Sheet we therefore feel that the Police Authorities of the State of Gujarat had failed to carry out fair and impartial investigation as we initially wanted them to do."

The Supreme Court directed the CBI to carry out the investigation including on the issue of a larger conspiracy. The CBI started investigating the case and, on the basis of call records of the police officials and other evidence, submitted a chargesheet on 23.7.2010 in which Amit Shah was named as a co-conspirator. The chargesheet states that Amit Shah was the lynchpin in the conspiracy. Amit Shah was arrested. On 29.10.2010 Amit Shah was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court, The CBI appealed to the Supreme Court against this order. The bail was not cancelled but Amit Shah was asked to not enter Gujarat.

In its charge sheet, the CBI claimed that Amit Shah presided over an extortion racket and that it was under his pressure and at his behest that the Gujarat police tried to cover up his involvement in the killings. Phone records of the police officials at the time of killings of Sohrabuddin, Kauser Bi and Tulsi Prajapati were used to show that these police officers were in constant touch with Amit Shah. The trial was transferred to Mumbai.

Subsequently, Amit Shah filed a Discharge Application in the Sessions Court at Mumbai. The evidence that the prosecution had (CBI) was damning. G.C Raigar, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Home Guard, Gujarat who had the  Additional Charge of ADGP CID Crime, and was in charge of the  investigation into the case, had stated that Amit Shah personally told him not to involve high level police officials in the crime. Obviously if high level police officials were not involved, the link to Mr. Shah could not be established. The Patel brothers of Popular Builders, whose statements were also recorded, have stated that Amit Shah personally told them to give a false statement against Sohrabuddin and that they paid a large amount of money to a senior police officer for being paid to Mr. Shah so as to ensure that they are not falsely implicated in a crime.
There were also the call records between Amit Shah and the officers involved in the murder, during the killings. There were certain other allegations too against Mr. Shah.

It was the CBI’s investigation which led to his arrest and to the transfer of the case outside Gujarat...... Shockingly however, it chose not to challenge the order of the Sessions Court.

However, it was now 2014 and, by now the CBI had decided to do a U turn. The case was not effectively defended in the Sessions Court.  The Sessions Court discharged Amit Shah on 30.12.2014. According to me, there is sufficient material against Mr. Shah to put him on trial. It was the CBI’s investigation which led to his arrest and to the transfer of the case outside Gujarat. At the stage of discharge the Court is not required to weigh the evidence in detail. The Court is only required to see whether it is a fit case for proceeding on trial. CBI had found it a fit case to proceed on trial  by filing the charge sheet. In fact, ordinarily the CBI would have challenged the discharge order of the Sessions Court in the High Court - more so in a sensitive case like this where it had been appointed by the Supreme Court as the Investigating Agency and the trial had been transferred at the instance of the CBI due to the involvement of Amit Shah.

Shockingly however, it chose to not challenge the order of the Sessions Court. 

Rubabuddin,  Sohrabuddin’s brother challenged the order in the High Court.  He was the person who had brought the case to light 10 years ago by writing to the Supreme Court. He had diligently followed it up in the Supreme Court and in the Sessions Court for all these years. Suddenly, within months after filing against the discharge, he decided to withdraw the case from the High Court. I am reasonably certain that this was due to extreme pressure brought on him. I can never forget the terror in his eyes and the helplessness when he did it. The question still remains. Why did the CBI not adequately defend the case in the Sessions Court and why did it refuse to file an appeal. Is it the caged parrot syndrome?

SOHRABUDDIN CASE FILE

(The author  is a senior advocate in Mumbai)
 
References:
1. Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah called cops arrested for killing Tulsi Prajapati, http://www.tehelka.com/2010/07/gujarat-home-minister-amit-shah-called-cops-arrested-for-killing-tulsi-prajapati-2/
2. The Amit Shah Files, Charge, No Charge, February 16, 2015, Outlookindia http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-amit-shah-files/293300
3. Sohrabuddin case: How Patel bros were ‘fleeced’ http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sohrabuddin-case-how-patel-bros-were-fleeced-1420791 
4. CATCH NEWS (Rubabuddin) October 10 2015 :I was threatened before I withdrew case against Amit Shah: Rubabuddin http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/yes-i-was-threatened-before-i-withdrew-the-case-sohrabuddin-s-brother-1445261071.html

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