Mumbai: The Bombay Lawyers’ Association on Tuesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led governments of being ‘discriminative’ while challenging the discharge of accused in the staged encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. The association told the Bombay High Court that the government has preferred to challenge the discharge of only few accused but has been dragging its feet on questioning the clean chit given to BJP chief Amit Shah.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said it would hear the association’s plea on October 3 and then consider issuing appropriate orders. The bench was seized with a Criminal Public Interest Litigation (CRPIL) filed by the Bombay Lawyers’ Association seeking directions to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to challenge the discharge of Amit Shah, from the case. A special court had granted a clean chit to Shah, dropping all the charges against him in 2014. Since then, the CBI has not challenged his discharge from the case.
Appearing for the association, advocate Ahmed Abdi accused the government of being discriminative. “The government has been negligent and has been discriminative in this case. It should have had challenged the discharge of Shah especially when it has challenged the clean chit given to few accused in the case,” Abdi argued. The CBI defended itself through Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh. He urged the bench to dismiss the plea as it was not for the interest of the public. “By no stretch of imagination, this litigation can be for public interest. Instead, this is a publicity litigation,” ASG Singh submitted.
He further informed the bench that prior to this petition, there have been three separate pleas filed by three different persons challenging the discharge of Shah. “The very first round of litigation involved Rubabuddin Sheikh, brother of Sohrabuddin. He however, withdrew his plea and specifically told the court that he did not wish to pursue the matter. Following this, two persons had filed separate pleas in this same matter. Both the petitions were dismissed by the HC,” Singh said. Having heard the submissions, the bench noted that the CBI has a ‘preliminary’ objection to the plea and accordingly adjourned the matter for further hearing on October 3.