A CBI court let off former Gujarat police chief PC Pande on Wednesday in the fake encounter cases of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his aide, Tulsiram Prajapati, as the state government did not give its sanction to prosecute him.
The Mumbai court last month discharged BJP president Amit Shah in the matter after saying no case existed against him and he had been implicated for political reasons.
Sources say this could pave the way for more police officers being discharged in the decade-old case.
In 2005, Sheikh, his wife Kauser Bi and Prajapati were travelling on a bus from Andhra Pradesh when they were allegedly kidnapped by Gujarat police. Sheikh and his wife were killed a few days later while Prajapati, a key witness to their kidnapping, was shot dead a year later as police said he was trying to escape.
Pande was booked by the CBI for delaying the investigation. Another controversial police officer, DG Vanzara, was granted bail in the case last year.
“We argued that Pande was only discharging his official duty and to prosecute him mandatory sanction from the government must be obtained,” Pande’s lawyer Sachin Pawar said.
Vanzara quit the force in 2013 and shot off a letter in which he accused Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, and Amit Shah, a former state home minister, of making him and other police officers scapegoats for following their orders.
The Sohrabuddin Sheikh case was transferred to Mumbai in September 2012 following the CBI’s request for a fair trial, while the Supreme Court slapped on the Prajapati case in 2013.
The CBI court is likely to pass an order on the discharge applications of former Rajasthan home minister Gulabchand Kataria and marble trader Vimal Patni on Thursday.