Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) opposed today the discharge plea of Gujarat IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal in the Tulsiram Prajapati ‘fake’ encounter case in the Bombay High Court. The role played by Aggarwal in the conspiracy was different from that (allegedly) played by Gujarat ATS chief D G Vanzara, who has been discharged, the CBI lawyer said.
Aggarwal is facing trial on the charges of destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy. His discharge application wasdismissed by the trial court in November last year. CBI’s lawyer Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told Justice A M Badar that Aggarwal’s and former Gujarat ATS chief Vanzara’s case were not similar.
The CBI charged Vanzara and several other senior officials of Gujarat and Rajasthan police for abducting and killing gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kausar Bi in November 2005, and Shaikh’s aide and an alleged eyewitness of the killings, Prajapati, in December 2006. Aggarwal is an accused only in the Prajapati case.
As per the charge sheet, while Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officer, Ashish Pandya, actually shot Prajapati dead in a fake encounter, Aggarwal ensured that Pandya’s leave records were destroyed and a fake FIR was registered to show that Prajapati had escaped from police custody. The trial court had noted that on the face of it Aggarwal, at Vanzara’s behest, had summoned Ashish Pandya, who was on leave to carry out the fake encounter.
Aggarwal’s lawyer argued in the high court that he was merely doing his official duty by following Vanzara’s orders, and thus, he must be granted the same relief as Vanzara on the ground of “parity”. Guatam Tiwari, the lawyer of Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Shaikh, opposed the plea.
Aggarwal’s official duty was to “uphold the rule of law,” and not to “oblige his superior officers”, Tiwari said. Last month, Justice Badar concluded the hearing and reserved his verdict on petitions filed by Rubabuddin and the CBI opposing the discharge granted to Vanzara and some other police officers, some of them now retired. Arguments on Aggarwal’s plea are likely to continue tomorrow.