Mumbai: Observing that public servants discharging their duties in routine need to be protected, the Bombay High Court on Monday discharged Dahyaji Gobarji Vanzara and five other senior police officers from Gujarat and Rajasthan. All these officers were arraigned as accused in the staged encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and aide – Tulsiram Prajapati.The High Court upheld the orders of the special court, which had discharged Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, Narendra Amin (of Gujarat police) and Dinesh MN, Dalpatsingh Rathod and Vipul Aggarwal (of Rajasthan police) from the case.
The special court had discharged these officers for want of prior sanction to prosecute them.The six of them, who were accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy to eliminate Sohrabuddin, a history-sheeter, now stand discharged from the encounter case.These officers were granted a breather by a single-judge bench of Justice Anant Badar, who was seized with at least three revision pleas filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin and two by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
One application was filed by Aggarwal challenging orders of the special court refusing to discharge him.In the chequered history of the matter, all these pleas were extensively heard initially by another bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere for at least one full month. The pleas were however removed from her board suddenly and then Justice Badar was assigned to hear and decide the same. Justice Badar, who heard the matter at length for nearly two weeks, in his detailed judgment, said, “Public servants discharging their duties in the routine course need to be protected, so that the administrative/executive wheel can run smoothly.”
“The grant of sanction is not an idle formality or an acrimonious exercise but a solemn and sacrosanct act which affords protection to government servants again- st frivolous prosecutions. Sanction is a weapon to ensure discouragement of frivolous and vexatious prosecution and is a safeguard for the innocent but not a shield for the guilty,” Justice Badar ruled.
According to CBI, all these officers had hatched a conspiracy to kill Sohrabuddin and while acting in pursuance to their plan, some of these officers abducted Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati on November 22, 2005. The trio was kidnapped from a private luxury bus, which was heading towards Sangli from Hyderabad.Sohrabuddin was then killed in an encounter on November 25, 2005, i.e., three days after he was kept in ‘illegal custody’ at a farmhouse in Gujarat. His wife, Kausar Bi was killed on the very next day and her dead body was set ablaze at the Vanzara’s native place.
The aide Prajapati was, however, killed a year later in November 2006 in an encounter.Justice Badar, however, refused to accept the theory of CBI against all these officers and said, “Considering the facts and role allegedly played by the discharged accused and material relied on the CBI, it was incumbent on the prosecution to obtain sanction prior to prosecuting these officers. The officers as seen from the material in the charge-sheet were certainly acting in the discharge of their official duties.”The court further said that if these officers would not have acted against Sohrabuddin, his wife and accomplice, “about whom there were inputs of being involved in serious criminal activities, the discharged accused would have been charged for dereliction of duty,” Justice Badar said.