The Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case continues to haunt the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed trial proceedings in the case involving several senior police officials of the state. The trial court has been hearing arguments on the charge for the past few days.
Sohrabuddin, an alleged ganster, was killed by the Gujarat police on November 26, 2006, reportedly in a fake encounter. A couple of days later, his wife Kauser Bi was also allegedly shot dead and her body burnt.
A bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam directed the Gujarat High Court Registrar General to seal all records pertaining to the case pending before the City Sessions Court, Ahmedabad, and posted the matter for further hearing on November 11.
It also directed the Madhya Pradesh Police to ensure no harm came to the family members of Rubabuddin Sheikh, brother of Sohrabuddin, who is seeking a CBI probe into the whole episode.
Another bench of the court had in May last year rejected his plea for a CBI probe and set up a Special Investigation Team under Gujarat Inspector General of Police Geeta Johri. But the court on Tuesday agreed to consider the plea for a CBI probe afresh after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanuim — who is assisting the court as amicus curiae — accused Johri of attempting to scuttle the investigation to protect the accused police officers.
He said contrary to initial belief that Johri was acting in an impartial manner, the fact was that she was acting in tandem with other top officials to tamper with the investigation and save the accused. “The investigation by Geeta Johri is shoddy, incompetent and designed to tamper with the truth,” Subramanuin said.
Senior Gujarat Police officers D.G. Vanzara (DIG), Raj Kumar Pandiyan (SP) and Dinesh M.N. (Rajasthan cadre IPS officer) are among the main accused in the case.
Subramaniam also said it was highly improper on the part of the Gujarat public prosecutor to prod the sessions judge to commence framing of charges when the SC was monitoring the case and had in July 2008 ordered further investigation.
Appearing for the Gujarat government, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi said the prosecutor cannot be blamed as it was for the court to conduct the trial. He said the court could stay the trial if it so wished.