Mumbai: A witness in the ‘staged’ encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kasuar Bi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati, has moved the Bombay High Court, seeking to challenge the acquittal of all the 38 accused policemen from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The witness has labelled the final verdict of the lower court as a ‘mockery of justice.’
It may be noted that before Mahendrasinh Zala, the brothers of Sohrabuddin —Rubabuddin and Nayabuddin — have already moved the HC, challenging the lower court’s ruling.
Zala has approached a bench of Justices Indrajit Mahanty and Anant Badar, seeking permission to question the acquittal of the accused policemen from the case.
He claims to be a ‘victim’ of the crime and thus has a ‘locus standi’ in the matter and accordingly, would be the right party to challenge the verdict of the special court, which was delivered in December last year.
“I am one of the victims of the extortion racket operated by these accused police officers. I was arrested by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in December 2005 and was wrongfully detained and later, threatened by DG Vanzara.
He had threatened to kill me in an encounter just as Sohrabuddin was and had demanded Rs 15 lakh, only if I wanted to save my life,” Zala has mentioned in his petition to justify his locus in the case.
Notably, Zala had deposed before the special court as witness number 205 during the trial and had testified in the case. However, he alleges he was never summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“I was allowed to depose only after I wrote a letter to the CBI requesting it to summon me as a witness and allow me to depose before the court. In fact, many other witnesses were not summoned by the CBI to depose in the court,” Zala has mentioned in his petition.
The petition further states that even as he deposed before the court (after his letter) he was helpless to depose in line with his statements in view of the ‘hostile’ environment prevalent in the court.
Zala’s petition has been vehemently opposed by the CBI through its counsel Sandesh Patil, especially on the basis of his locus. The agency has argued that since Zala is neither a victim or an affected party, he cannot challenge the verdict because he is just a witness in the case.
The judges have heard the rival contentions and submissions advanced by both the parties and have closed the matter for judgment.