Bombay High Court slams CBI for its ‘casual’ approach in Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday slammed the CBI for its ‘casual’ approach in dealing with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. The court pulled up the agency as it had shirked its responsibility to place on record the necessary documents related to the case.

The main complainant in the case is Rubabuddin, brother of Sohrabuddin. The single-judge bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere was irked with the agency as it had failed to furnish the statements of several witnesses. Justice Mohite-Dere almost lost her cool when senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, who is appearing for some of the accused, objected to advocate Gautam Tiwari, who is representing Rubabuddin, reading out the statements of prosecution witnesses. The senior counsel claimed that Tiwari being the complainant, must assist the prosecution and should not lead the case.

Irked over the submission, Justice Mohite-Dere said, “It is not that everybody has the luxury of engaging a well-known or a high profile lawyer. And in such circumstances, it is the duty of the prosecution and the prosecuting agency to place on record all documents related to the case before the court.’’

“Unfortunately, I am not getting the required assistance from the CBI. The agency has failed to even apprise this court about the overall case. I want to know about it but for reasons best known to the CBI, I am not getting any assistance,” Justice Mohite-Dere remarked. The judge accordingly directed the CBI to submit the statements of all the witnesses, which have been recorded by a magistrate, on Thursday afternoon.

Advocate Tiwari read out several statements of the prosecution witnesses in order to falsify the version of the defence, wherein it was claimed Sohrabuddin was killed when he tried to escape on a motorcycle. While reading out statements of the drivers of the vehicles used for executing the encounter, Tiwari said, “These witnesses clearly corroborate the fact that accused DG Vanzara had arranged a motorcycle with a view to show that Sohrabuddin was trying to escape on it. The statements also show that senior IPS officials like Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandiyan, NK Amin and other co-accused together burnt the body of Kausar Bi, the wife of Sohrabuddin.”

Justice Mohite-Dere appreciated the efforts of Tiwari, who has been reading out almost every statement from the chargesheet filed by the CBI. She has been hearing applications moved by Rubabuddin and the CBI challenging the discharge of a few IPS officials and other police officers from the case. She would continue hearing the matter on Thursday.

It is not the first time Justice Mohite-Dere has slammed the CBI; a week earlier, the court had expressed its displeasure over the attitude of the agency. Justice Mohite-Dere had even asked the CBI as to ‘why it was even conducting a trial in the case,’ given its casual approach.

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