Former Gujarat minister Amit Shah on Thursday questioned the Supreme Court order for a CBI probe into the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, saying it was issued by a bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee, who was facing a CBI investigation in a PF scam case.
In its probe report, the CBI said despite Justice Chatterjee’s misdemeanors, it did not intend to proceed against him for lack of “prosecutable evidence” against him.
“On January 12, Justice Tarun Chatterjee (retired on the same date), who was part of the Bench, was being investigated by CBI. When the CBI was investigating the judge, it was improper for him to pass such an order,” senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Shah, told a bench.
Jethmalani alleged Shah’s arrest in the case was a part of a conspiracy to destroy him and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The bench, Amicus Curiae Gopal Subramanium, senior counsel KTS Tulsi and senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing petitioner Rubabuddinan Sheikh, strongly objected to it. “It hurt me and it would hurt your great reputation more,” said Justice Alam. Jethmalani replied: “I have no reputation to lose. I am doing my duty to the client.” Objecting to further probe by CBI, he said he would like to file documents in support of his contention.
Citing a three-judge bench ruling in Lalu Prasad’s case, Jethmalani said once a chargesheet has been filed in a case, the SC couldn’t monitor it and it was for the trial judge to conduct further proceedings.
Justice Lodha sought to know if it was possible for the SC to monitor the case after filing of chargesheet on July 23. Tulsi and Subramanium answered in the affirmative. The court gave the CBI three months for probe into the alleged larger conspiracy without deciding on the question of the legality of the case being monitored by the apex court after the chargesheet was filed.
During the hearing, a heated exchange took place between Jethmalani and Dave with the latter accusing the former law minister of giving case a political colour. “It is cheap politics,” Dave said. Jethmalani said, “I am arguing law not politics.”