Prajapati murder case: No separate trial against Shah

In a major relief to BJP general secretary and former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, the Supreme Court on Monday quashed the second FIR registered by the CBI in the case relating to the killing of Tulsiram Prajapati, a material witness in the fake encounter death of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.

A Bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice B S Chauhan said the chargesheet filed on September 4 in pursuance of the second FIR shall be treated as a supplementary chargesheet in the first FIR.

Shah was arrested by the CBI on July 25, 2010 in connection with the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. And he was granted bail after spending three months at the Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad.

With the CBI filing a separate chargesheet against him, Shah had faced the prospect of being arrested again in the Prajapati  case.

Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi were allegedly abducted from Hyderabad by the Gujarat anti-terrorist squad (ATS) and killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.

As per the CBI chargesheet, Prajapati was Sohrabuddin’s accomplice and he was eliminated by the ATS as he had witnessed the killing of both Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi.

Writing the judgment Justice Sathasivam said, “The FIR is a report which gives first information with regard to any offence. There cannot be a second FIR in respect of the same offence/event because whenever any further information is received by the investigating agency, it is always in furtherance of the first FIR.”

He further said, “In the case on hand, the second FIR was nothing but a consequence of the event which had taken place on 25/26.11.2005. We have already concluded that the Prajapati encounter was part of the same chain of events in which Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi were killed and directed the CBI to take up the investigation.”

Concluding, the Bench said, “We are of the view that the filing of the second FIR and the fresh chargesheet is violative of fundamental rights under Article 14, 20 and 21 of the Constitution since the same relate to the alleged offence in respect of which an FIR had already been filed and the court had taken cognisance.” However, the Bench made it clear that it had not gone into the merits of the claim of both the parties and it was for the trial court to decide the same in accordance with the law.

The apex court said that the relief granted applied to all the accused in the Prajapati case.

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The New Indian Express