Sohrabuddin fake encounter case: CBI failed to attribute motive to killings

On December 21, the court acquitted all the 22 accused in the case citing insufficient evidence and the prosecution's failure to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Published: 01st January 2019 11:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st January 2019 03:36 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

MUMBAI: A special CBI court that recently acquitted all 22 accused in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati has said in its detailed judgement that the investigating agency failed to attribute the motive behind the killings.

Special CBI Judge S J Sharma's 358-page judgement was made available on Monday.

On December 21, the court acquitted all the 22 accused in the case citing insufficient evidence and the prosecution's failure to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

The court said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) failed to prove any nexus between the officers and local politicians, some of whom were also accused in the case.

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It said the CBI also failed to attribute any motive behind the killings and, therefore, there was no chance that the senior officials could have been part of any conspiracy.

The court also cited the testimony of Amitabh Thakur, who was the CBI's chief investigating officer in 2010, and was probing the killings of Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi.

The judge noted that while Thakur alleged in the charge sheet that some senior officers and politicians, including BJP chief Amit Shah, made "political and monetary" benefits from the killings, but during his questioning in court, he (Thakur) said he "did not have any evidence to prove the accused facing trial" had got such benefits.

"The charge sheet drafted by PW 209 Shri Amitabh Thakur, the chief IO, has said that the motive of the accused was political and monetary benefit.

In his cross-examination, he has said that none of the 22 accused facing trial was a political beneficiary or monetarily benefited and none of them has the motive to kill Sohrabuddin.

This is also one of the circumstances which favour the Defence," the judge said.

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"There was no material before me showing that any of the accused was monetarily benefited in the alleged killing," the court said.

Judge Sharma, who retired from service Monday, said in his judgement that the initial probe by the local police in Gujarat into the killings of Shaikh and his wife Kausar Bi made it out to be a case of fake encounter.

During subsequent probes by the CID and CBI, the prosecution witnesses "improved" upon their testimonies and the probe agencies, particularly the CBI, added the narrative of their existing nexus between senior police officials and local politicians, the judge said.

The CBI also claimed that Sohrabuddin and Prajapati had been extorting money from local marble traders on behalf of the police and politicians, the judge said.

However, when their relationship soured, the police and the politicians wanted Sohrabuddin and Prajapati out of their way, he said.

Judge Sharma, however, said, "On the basis of improved version of almost all witnesses, who in their earlier statement had not said anything about politicians and political nexus, somehow after a year came out with such a nexus theory".

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"I have no hesitation to conclude that the evidence which has been laid and adduced and as discussed and appreciated vividly, the prosecution has tried but has failed to prove any such politician-police nexus.

Further, there is no material proving even prima facie element of extortion from marble lobby of Rajasthan by politicians who were initially arraigned as accused by CBI investigators," he said.

While the special court judge noted that the medical evidence in the case proved that the deaths of both Sohrabuddin and Prajapati were homicidal in nature, the CBI failed to prove that the accused persons had anything to do with it.

The judge dismissed the entire narrative created by the CBI, beginning with the theory that in November 2005 Sohrabuddin, Kausar Bi and Prajapati were travelling from Indore to Hyderabad to celebrate Eid, and then, from Hyderabad to Sangli, when on November 22, they were abducted by the Gujarat ATS.

Judge Sharma said the CBI failed to provide any evidence to establish that the three had been travelling in the bus, and that they were abducted, and subsequently killed by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police.

"Having so examined the entire investigation and conducted the trial, I have no hesitation in recording that during the investigation of these offences, the CBI was doing something other than reaching the truth of the offences.

"It clearly appears that the CBI was more concerned in establishing a particular preconceived and premeditated theory rather than finding out the truth," he said.

"I have also noted the negligence of the CBI towards the material part of investigation which clearly indicate that they hurriedly completed the investigation by using replica of the earlier recorded investigation and have implicated the police persons who had no knowledge of any conspiracy.

Rather they appeared innocent," the judge added.

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