The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to cancel bail of Amit Shah, accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. But in a blow to the Gujarat government, it transferred the trial of the case to a special CBI court in Mumbai.
The order comes as a reprieve to Shah as he can now enter Gujarat where he hasn't gone for 23 months.
According to an undertaking to the Supreme Court, the former state home minister had promised not to travel to the state till further court orders.
Shah is likely to play a crucial role in the forthcoming assembly elections in December.
Coming down heavily on Gujarat government for attempting to shield its officers and former minister in the alleged fake encounter case, a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said: "However, the apprehension expressed by the CBI that Amitbhai Shah may misuse the freedom and try to subvert the prosecution cannot be lightly brushed aside."
"We, accordingly, direct that Shah (respondent No 1 in criminal appeal) shall give an undertaking in writing to the trial court that he would not commit any breach of the conditions of the bail bond and would not try to influence any witnesses or tamper with the prosecution evidence in any manner. We further direct that Amitbhai Shah will report to the CBI office every alternate Saturday at 11 am," the bench added.
The bench further clarified that the grant of bail to Shah shall not effect the Prajapati case, where the former minister has been named as an accused by the CBI in its recently filed chargesheet.
Whether or not Shah has to be kept in judicial custody or granted bail would be decided by the trial court on the basis of the material on record, it added.
This is the third high profile case shifted from Gujarat to Mumbai. Previously, the SC had shifted trial of post-Godhra riots cases — Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano. The shifting of the trial to Maharashtra means the SC held that the atmosphere was not conducive to hold "free and fair trial in the state considering high profile accused".