MUMBAI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) made it clear on Tuesday that it would oppose the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against its decision to not challenge a lower court order discharging BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case.
“We are opposing the petition. We also have an issue on the maintainability of the petition. The discharge order is of December 2014…there is an issue of limitations,” CBI counsel Anil Singh said in the high court as the petition came up for hearing before the division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre.
The bench posted the petition for arguments on February 13 after the CBI counsel sought time.
The public interest litigation, filed by the Bombay Lawyers Association last week, termed as “illegal, arbitrary and malafide” the CBI’s action of not challenging the December 30, 2014 order of a special CBI court here discharging Shah.
Senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioner, also pointed out that the PIL has also sought records from the high court administrative committee on why the CBI judge, who was initially assigned to conduct trial in the case, was transferred.
The petition had sought the record while referring to the Supreme Court order while shifting the trial in the case from Gujarat to Mumbai which, according to the petition, said, “…that the administrative committee of the high court would assign the case to a court where the trial may be concluded judiciously, in accordance with the law, and without any delay and from beginning to end by the same officer.”
To this, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “We leave it to the petitioner but we feel the institution (HC) should be kept out as far as possible. We request counsel Dave to take an appropriate decision on this.”
The PIL has urged the high court to issue a direction to the CBI to file a revision application challenging the sessions court’s order discharging Shah.
It submitted that the trial court had similarly discharged two Rajasthan police sub-inspectors Himanshu Singh and Shyam Singh Charan and senior Gujarat police officer N K Amin, but the CBI had challenged the decision.
“This act of the CBI in challenging discharge of the accused persons on the selective basis is arbitrary and unreasonable, rather malafide,” the petition alleged.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who the Gujarat police claimed was also a terrorist, was killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police along with his wife Kauser Bi in November 2005.
The CBI took over the probe into the case in February 2010 and filed its charge sheet in July the same year against 23 accused, including Amit Shah, who at that time was the home minister of Gujarat. The trial court over a period of time discharged several accused in the case, including three IPS officers.