The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) in Danta on Tuesday held that it has the competence to take cognisance of the chargesheet filed by CBI in Tulsi Prajapati encounter case against former minister Amit Shah and 19 others.
JMFC Geeta Ahir today rejected the applications filed by former IPS officers OP Mathur, PC Pande, suspended senior officer Rajkumar Pandian and ex-investigator of the case RK Patel, who had objected to the filing of chargesheet in the Danta court, instead of Special CBI court in Ahmedabad where CBI had filed FIR of this case on April 29, 2011.
The Court also refused to grant a stay to its order as prayed by the accused to enable them to challege it in higher court.
Following this, new applications, on behalf of Amit Shah, OP Mathur, PC Pande and Geetha Johri were filed, challenging the legality of the chargesheet in naming them as accused in the encounter case without prior sanctions of the Gujarat government.
"At the time of the offence, for which they all been named accused, they were public servants and before registering any offences, under provisions of IPC against them, prior government sanctions under section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code are mandatory," said Advocate Mitesh Amin, who is representing the accused.
Court has fixed the hearing on these applications on September 27.
"Until these applications are decided, court is not going to take cognisance of the charge sheet and no further proceedings over the charge sheet will be initiated," said Amin.
Prajapati was killed in a fake encounter allegedly by Gujarat Police at Chhapri near here on December 28, 2006.
Shah, a close aide of chief minister Narendra Modi and a former minister of state for home, is among 20 accused named by CBI in its chargesheet and 18 of the accused, including Amit Shah have been charged with the offences of murder, conspiracy, destruction of the evidence among other sections of IPC.
While OP Mathur and RK Patel have been charged only for criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and dereliction of duty, but not for murder, said sources.
Sources also said that Amit Shah has been named accused number one in the chargesheet and also described as 'kingpin' of the conspiracy to kill Prajapati.
CBI has also mentioned in its chargesheet about two prior attempts, jointly by Gujarat and Rajasthan police, to kill Prajapati in encounter, said the sources.
Some of the IPS officers named in the Prajapati episode like Vanzara and Pandian, are also facing charges in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case and are currently in jail.