On Friday, the Bombay High Court division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, while dismissing petition against the Central Bureau of Investigation’s decision to not challenge Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah’s discharge in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, said that the petitioner has “no locus”.
In 2005, the Gujarat Police had allegedly killed Shaikh and his wife Kausar Bi in a fake encounter. In 2006, Tulsi Prajapati, an associate of Shaikh, was also killed in an encounter carried out by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police. In 2014, Amit Shah was discharged by a special CBI court in the case. 16 out of the 38 people charged by the CBI in the case, were discharged by the trial court and high court, which included Shah and senior officers of Gujarat and Rajasthan police. The Court was hearing a petition filed by the Bombay Lawyers Association, challenging the CBI’s decision to not challenge the discharge granted to Amit Shah in the case.
Through the petition, the association had raised questions over the agency’s decision to file revision applications against the discharge of two other accused in the case, but not challenging Shah’s discharge from the case. Dushyant Dave, appearing for the association, had argued that the CBI had changed its stand on Shah after the change of government at the Centre in 2014.
However, the petition was opposed by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI saying that, its decision was a “conscious and reasonable” move made after studying the trial court’s order granting discharge to Shah as well as various subsequent orders of appellate courts upholding the same and had sought dismissal of the petition on the grounds of the petition being a “publicity stunt” and “politically motivated”.
However, Dave had argued that the Supreme Court had roped in the CBI to probe the killings of Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and Prajapati as the apex court had trusted in the “independent” agency adding that, “Extraordinary facts require extraordinary actions. Publicity is inevitable in such a case, 16 accused out of 38 have been acquitted. Out of the discharged accused, some of the most powerful in country are there. The same CBI had made statement before the trial court that he (Amit Shah) is the main accused in this case and once the government changed, CBI’s stand also did. In order to preserve the integrity of the trial, it was transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai. If 16 accused are discharged, what is the sanctity of the trial? This is miscarriage of justice.” The Court had reserved the order on October 3, 2018.
On Friday, the Court said that it was not inclined to grant any relief as the petitioners had taken such a long time after the order of discharge was passed, to file the petition and also had no locus in the case. In the final judgment, the Court said, “We are dismissing the petition. We are not inclined to grant any relief... especially when the petitioner is a body which has no locus in the case”.