A special court here today adjourned hearing of the discharge plea of BJP chief Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter cases after Sheikh's brother told the judge his plea against his predecessor's transfer was pending before the Bombay High Court.
CBI court judge B H Loya ordered the hearing on the discharge petition of Shah and similar pleas and bail applications of other accused to be "kept in abeyance" till August 1 after he was informed by Rubabuddin Sheikh's lawyer that he had petitioned the high court seeking revocation of transfer of earlier judge J T Utpat.
Rubabuddin's counsel Feroz Khan told the court that he had written to the HC to seek recall of the order to transfer Utpat to Pune as the Supreme Court had, while transferring the case from Gujarat to Mumbai, said a single judge will conduct the entire trial. Loya then adjourned the matter till August 1 and asked Rubabuddin to apprise the court of the status of his plea in the high court.
Shah did not turn up before the court again today, saying he was busy in Delhi, and sought exemption from appearance. The CBI opposed his plea saying no plausible reason was given for seeking exemption. However, the court granted Shah's prayer. Earlier, there was drama in the courtroom when just before the start of the proceedings Khan requested the constable present to ask all accused to vacate as Rubabuddin felt threatened by them. The constable obliged.
Taking note of the incident, judge Loya noted in his order that "(Khan) is made aware that if he has any complaint he should submit to the court and should not interfere in the consideration of the court". Khan insisted that the accused should only be made to sit in the dock provided for them after which some of the accused were made to sit in the box.
The CBI has charge-sheeted Shah, a former Minister of State for Home of Gujarat, and 37 others, including several police officers, in the two cases of alleged fake encounters.
According to CBI, gangster Sohrabuddin, who was claimed to have links to Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and his wife Kauser Bi were abducted by Gujarat's Anti-Terrorism Squad when they were on way from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra and killed in an alleged staged encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005. Prajapati, an eyewitness to the encounter, was killed by police at Chapri village in Banaskantha district of Gujarat in December 2006.
According to the CBI, Shah, who was then Minister of State for Home, was allegedly involved in the conspiracy behind both the incidents.