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Sohrabuddin encounter case: Special CBI court verdict likely on December 21

Written by PaperDabba

Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kausarbi. (File photo)

A special CBI court in Mumbai is likely to pronounce judgment in the alleged Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case on December 21.

On Thursday, on the last day of the trial in the alleged fake encounters case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, the CBI prosecutor submitted before the court that the prosecution had not been able to establish many links of evidence to prove the offence.

A day earlier, Special Public Prosecutor B P Raju blamed the delay in investigation and the 12-year-long gap between the incident and the deposition of witnesses for impacting the evidence against the accused. Raju said that while Shaikh’s encounter and the alleged murder of his wife, Kausarbi, had taken place in November 2005 and Prajapati’s encounter took place in 2006, the CBI took over the probe only in 2010.

“The incident took place in 2005 and 2006. There was no investigation till 2007 when the case was transferred to the Gujarat CID. Much of the evidence before us is the probe conducted by the CID. The CBI took over the probe only in 2010. The witnesses are deposing after more than 12 years. Many said they do not remember things. The main, star witnesses, went hostile… the entire chain has gone wrong, we could not bring direct evidence,” Raju told the court.

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Special Judge S J Sharma said that both the CID and the CBI had “tried their best” to collect documents and witness statements as evidence against the accused. “What was collected was sufficient to connect the accused to the offences. There are witnesses, who had given statements before the investigating agencies. What they said in the court ultimately, the blame cannot be put on the investigators. Witnesses going hostile does not mean that the case is gone,” the judge said.

Between 2014 and 2018, sixteen accused, including IPS officers, were discharged from the case for lack of evidence with only 22 junior-rung policemen and a farmhouse owner from Gujarat currently standing trial. This week, while hearing the final arguments, the special court pointed out many lacunae in the prosecution’s case.

Earlier on Wednesday, four accused completed their final arguments. Three policemen — assistant sub-inspector Narayan Singh and constables Kartar Singh and Yudhvir Singh — who were part of the escort team that claimed Tulsiram had escaped from their custody on December 27, 2006, claimed that the CBI’s allegation that the escape was staged was false.

On Wednesday, with the conclusion of the final arguments, the court reserved the judgment. Raju said he was not going to file written arguments.

On Monday, the prosecution had concluded its arguments in two hours, against all 22 accused following which the court began hearing the final submissions of the accused. The case had begun in November 2017 and saw the deposition of 210 witnesses. Of them, 92 turned hostile.

The current 22 accused include police inspectors, assistant inspectors, sub-inspectors and constables and one private person, the owner of a farmhouse where Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi were allegedly illegally confined after being kidnapped from a bus on November 23, 2005. Sohrabuddin was shown to have been killed in an encounter in Ahmedabad on November 26, 2005. Kausarbi too was subsequently killed and her body allegedly disposed of.

It has been claimed that Sohrabuddin was gunned down in cross-firing when he had come to Gujarat to kill a “big political leader”. Raju has continuously claimed that a ticket showing that Sohrabuddin had travelled from Surat to Ahmedabad on the day of his encounter was shown to have been seized from him.

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