The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction over the insinuations made by the CBI that Gujarat's trial courts and its judges were partial towards former state home minister Amit Shah, an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai observed that the allegations levelled by the CBI in its petition, seeking transfer of the encounter case trial outside Gujarat, were "nonsensical".
It also asked additional solicitor general Vivek Tankha if the CBI had initiated contempt proceedings against the officer responsible for clearing the petition. In response, Tankha said he would make an application to delete the paragraph containing the allegations.
"In our system, there is a separation of power and the judiciary is independent... Saying that judiciary even at the lower rank will toe the political line is complete nonsense," the bench said. It further said,"To systematise an institution, we totally disapprove such statement of the CBI. Notwithstanding all these, let there be no impression that the state is protecting the accused."
Shah, a close aide of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, was arrested by the CBI on July 25, 2010 and had to spend over three months in Sabarmati jail. Later, he was granted bail by Gujarat High Court. He has been accused of being the "kingpin" of the conspiracy behind the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in November 2005. Sheikh's wife Kausarbi and Tulsiram Prajapati, said to be his accomplice, were also killed later.
Following Shah's arrest, the CBI had moved a transfer petition before the Supreme Court claiming the atmosphere in Gujarat was surcharged and a fair trial in the case was not possible there. The agency also claimed that Shah's kin were present in subordinate judiciary in various capacities as prosecutors, magistrates and judges.
The bench was prompted to assail the CBI's contention after Gujarat's advocate general Tushar Mehta condemned it while opposing the transfer petition. "How do you (CBI) make such a statement?" the bench asked Tankha. "Let us know whether you want to retain it (allegations against the judicial system) or delete it."
Tankha said he was not personally in favour of such a statement.
Opposing the CBI's petition, Mehta contended: "Judiciary in the state is alive to the seriousness and gravity of the case and the trial would not lead to the failure of justice in Gujarat."