NEW DELHI: In a huge relief to BJP president Amit Shah, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the clean chit given by the subordinate courts to him in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case and rejected the plea for reinvestigation. Shah was Gujarat home minister at the time of the killing.
A bench comprising justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan rejected it while questioning the locus standi of former bureaucrat and social activist Harsh Mander for pursuing the case in which the victim’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh had preferred to withdraw the petition. “When the person is genuinely aggrieved, the issue takes a different colour but when the person is not remotely connected and wants to revive the case then it’s a different dimension,” the bench told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mander.
A trial court in Mumbai had discharged Shah in the case saying there is a lack of evidence to frame charges against him. While the CBI had chosen not to challenge the ruling, the victim’s brother had withdrawn his appeal in the Bombay High Court.
Mander had then approached the High Court challenging the trial court order, but the court refused to entertain it, questioning his locus standi and prompting him to move the apex court.
The senior advocate tried to justify Mander’s locus standi by citing corruption cases but the bench rejected his contention, saying there couldn’t be a comparison. Sibal said the victim’s brother had withdrawn his petition without citing any reason and thus, in this high-profile case, the public must get the feeling that nobody is above the law. Sibal said, “The CBI has filed the chargesheet in such a serious case. There must be some reason that the trial was transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra. The statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was recorded but I am unable to understand why they (CBI) turned turtle. Even his (Sohrabuddin’s) brother who filed the case against Shah withdrew his case later.” Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Shah, cited various judgments of the apex court to support the contention that the former bureaucrat, as a third party, did not have any locus standi in the case.
Sohrabuddin, a gangster, was allegedly abducted with his wife Kausar Bi by Gujarat police when they were on their way from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra in 2005 and later killed.