Observing that the investigation by the Gujarat Police was proceedings in the right direction, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected plea of the Centre and the victim’s brother for a CBI probe into the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh by the state police in a fake encounter in November 2005.
A Bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and P K Balasubramanyan, however, asked the investigating team headed by Gujarat Police IG (CID) Geetha Johri not to report to DGP P C Pandey and submit its reports directly to the apex court. It also asked Pandey not to interfere with the investigation.
Attorney General Milon K Banerjee had demanded a CBI probe on the ground that thr probe spread over three states. He had also requested the court to monitor any such probe.
Victim’s brother Rubabbudin had alleged that undue delay in registration of FIR, frequent transfers of probe team officials and attempts to scuttle the probe at every stage clearly showed that Gujarat Police was not serious. Amicus Curiae Gopal Subramanium had also supported the plea.
The court directed the states of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan and their high police officials to cooperate with the investigating agency of Gujarat in view of the fact that the motive of the murder was yet to be established and further investigation might be needed in these two states.
It asked the Gujarat Government to file an affidavit detailing all facts relating to the investigation, which have been brought to the court’s notice by Status/Action Taken Reports.
In its latest report, the Gujarat Government had said that AP Police personnel who helped the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad in picking up Sohrabuddin were yet to be identified and that help had been sought from the DGP and IGP of that state.
The Gujarat Police has also sought the help of DGP and IGP, Rajasthan for apprehending the accused in that state. The ATR said that reports from the Directorate of Forensic Science, Gujarat were awaited.
The farm house to which Sohrabuddin’s wife Kausar Bi was shifted, the method adopted in her possible killing and those involved in the crime were yet to be identified, the report further said.
According to the ATR, the probe team had sought permission of the local court for narco-analysis and other tests on accused police officers - Ex-DIG D B Vanzara, Ex-SP (CID) Rajkumar Pandyan and Ex-SP of Alwar Dinesh M N.
The court directed the Gujarat Government to submit the final report on all these aspects of the probe by July 3 and posted the matter for hearing on July 16.
But it rejected the plea of the victim’s brother, Rubabbuddin Sheikh’s plea for including Gujarat DIG (CID) Rajnish Rai in the probe team headed by Johri.
Where is Kausar Bi?
The Gujarat Government had earlier admitted before the court that Kausar Bi was killed and burnt by the accused police officials few days after Sohrabuddin’s encounter.
In its latest ATR, the Gujarat Government had told the court that efforts were on to trace her remains. A well at Illol in Sabarkantha District had been dug up and the samples collected had been sent for forensic analysis to Forensic Science Laboratory, Gandhinagar.
However, the apex court said “we may keep in mind that under the law, there is a presumption that if the dead body is not found or the person concerned is not found for a period of seven years, only then the said person can be presumed to be dead.
From the record, till today no proof of death of Kausar Bi has been brought on record,” the Bench said, adding that the issue would be considered on the next date after getting the reports.