MUMBAI: The lawyer of Rajasthan IPS officer Dinesh MN, named by the CBI as an accused in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case, told the Bombay High Court today that the trial court discharged him because there was no prima facie evidence.
Raja Thakre also pointed out that the CBI chose not to challenge the lower court's discharge order.
While discharging Dinesh last year, the special CBI court not only cited lack of official sanction for his prosecution, but also noted that there existed no prima facie evidence against him, the lawyer said.
"The same court rejected the discharge applications filed by three junior police officers who were alleged to have accompanied me (Dinesh) to the encounter site.
That is because the CBI had claimed they were the ones who shot at Sohrabuddin," Thakre said.
"The CBI failed to ascribe any distinct role to me and said merely that I had conspired to have Sohrabuddin and (his aide) Prajapati killed.
However, the CBI court held that there was no prima facie evidence to suggest I had been part of the conspiracy, much less that I had a role to play in the actual killings," he said.
Therefore, Dinesh's discharge was akin to "acquittal", the lawyer claimed.
According to the CBI,Â Dinesh was involved in the fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, a gangster who allegedly had terror links, and his associate Tulsiram Prajapati.
Dinesh travelled, on November 24, 2005, from Udaipur to Ahmedabad for executing the encounter, the agency had said, adding that he was accompanied by three junior officers of Rajasthan Police -- Rehman Abdul Khan, Kartar Singh and Yudhvir Singh.
Dinesh's contention is that he had gone to Ahmedabad to attend an official training program.
"I had the permission of the director general of Rajasthan Police, I stayed at the government circuit house.
That proves that I had gone to Ahmedabad on official duty," his lawyer told the high court.
The high court is hearing, on a daily basis, applications filed by Sohrabuddin's brother Rubabuddin Shaikh, challenging the discharge of former deputy inspector-general of Gujarat D G Vanzara, Dinesh M N and Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandiyan.
The court is also hearing applications filed by the CBI challenging the discharge of Rajasthan Police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod and Gujarat Police officer N K Amin.
Meanwhile, three more prosecution witnesses turned hostile in the fake encounter cases' trial before the special CBI court here today.
The three witnesses refused to identify two farmhouses near Ahmedabad where Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly kept before they were killed in fake encounter.
The panch witnesses said they had never been to the farmhouses, and had been just made to sign the panchnama (inspection report) by Gujarat Police.
A total of 33 witnesses has turned hostile in the case so far.
Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter by Gujarat Police in November 2005, while Prajapati was killed in another alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in December 2006.
Of the 38 people charged by the CBI in the case, 15, including Vanzara, Pandiyan and Dinesh MN, and BJP president Amit Shah were discharged by the special CBI court.