NEW DELHI: A special CBI court in Ahmedabad on Thursday sentenced seven people including former Junagarh MP Dinubhai Solanki to life imprisonment for the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa. Jethwa was shot dead in 2010 and the case was handed over to the investigation agency in 2012 upon the directions of the Gujarat High Court after Jetwa’s father levelled allegations against Solanki.
Jethwa had through RTI queries exposed illegal mining in the Gir forests allegedly involving the former parliamentarian. Gir forests are the only abode of the Asiatic Lion. The others sentenced to life imprisonment include former police constable Bahadursinh Dhiruba Vadher, Shivabhai Desai, Sanjay Parbatbhai Chouhan, Pratapbhai and Shailesh Nanalal Pandya. All of the convicts have been slapped with fines ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs15 lakh.
After the CBI took up the investigation of the case, the probe agency unearthed illegal activities of the former Junagarh MP and filed a PIL in the High Court which sought to make him a respondent in the case. The CBI, during the probe, also established that Solanki had hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Jethwa as he was enraged with the RTI activist.
The charge sheet was filed in the case in 2013 where the accused to has been charged under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including murder and Sections of the Arms Act. The trial court found the accused guilty and convicted the seven accused. While the PIL was being heard, Jethwa was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court here on July 20, 2010.
Initially, Ahmedabad police’s crime branch probed the case and gave a clean chit to Dinubhai Solanki. Dissatisfied with the investigation, the high court handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2013.
“Our judiciary takes time but it has finally delivered justice to our family... even a criminal like Solanki is brought to justice,” Bhikhabhai Jethwa said after the court’s verdict. When the trial began, witnesses started turning hostile. Of the 195 witnesses, 105 had turned hostile. The court also ordered proceedings to be initiated against all the 105.