MUMBAI: A city-based lawyers' body has written to the Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, asking her to take urgent "remedial measures" in view of the reassignment of the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case.
The Bombay Lawyers' Association (BLA) sent the letter on the issue to the office of Acting Chief Justice V K Tahilramani.
In the letter, the BLA said the recent change in assignments that resulted in transfer of the batch of petitions challenging the discharge of some senior IPS officers in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin to a new single-judge bench, sent out a "wrong signal" to the public.
The association has said such a change in assignment also undermines the faith of people in the judiciary, and urged Justice Tahilramani to take urgent "remedial measures so that justice is done".
On February 24, the assignments of some of the judges in the high court were changed and the petitions related to the encounter case were transferred from the court of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere to that of Justice N W Sambre.
This, despite the fact that Justice Mohite-Dere had been conducting day-to-day hearings on the petitions and had heard arguments on three of the five petitions, the BLA said.
The HC registrar later said such a change in assignments was a routine process.
"While there is no doubt that the Chief Justice is the master of the roster, this power must be exercised in consonance with conventions, and above all, while keeping in mind the larger public interest," the association has said.
"This (change in assignments) is particularly intriguing considering how Justice Mohite-Dere had consistently reprimanded the CBI for its approach in the case.
"It is necessary to point out that of the 38 accused in the encounter case, 15, including BJP president Amit Shah have been discharged.
Out of the 42 witnesses examined so far, 34 have turned hostile," the letter said.
The BLA also pointed out that as a result of the reassignments, a PIL it filed earlier this year against the CBI decision to not challenge the discharge of Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati encounters case was transferred to a bench led by Justice B R Gavai.
"However, Justice Gavai is the same judge who had given a statement to the press declaring there was nothing suspicious about the death of judge B H Loya," it has said.
The association is yet to receive any response from Justice Tahilramani's office.
Sohrabuddin, a gangster, and his wife Kausar Bi were killed allegedly in a fake encounter by the Gujarat ATS in December 2005.
Sohrabuddin's aide Prajapati, who was a witness to the duo's encounter, was killed a year later by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police allegedly in another stage-managed gunfight.
Judge Loya, who was presiding over the trial in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, died in 2014.
However, questions were raised over the alleged mysterious death of judge Loya and petitions were filed in the Supreme Court seeking an independent probe into the matter.