Even Before Amit Shah was Let Off, 'Dilutions' Haunted the Sohrabuddin Case

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BJP workers celebrate in Ahmedabad after the court verdict. (PTI Photo)


Mumbai:  In a dramatic order in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter cases, BJP President Amit Shah was exempted from all charges by a special Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI court in Mumbai today. Pending an appeal in a higher court, the order means that Mr Shah will not have to stand trial in the alleged extrajudicial killings of Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi in 2005 and that of Prajapati in 2006. (Amit Shah Won't be Tried for Murder; Vindicated, Says BJP)

The judge systematically debunked the evidence, tying Mr Shah to the killings, produced by the CBI.

A case with charges of this magnitude - to be discharged before going to trial - is very, very rare. And yet, the family of Sohrabuddin and lawyers appearing for them said they saw this coming.

They pointed to the transfer, in June this year, of Justice JT Utpat, the first CBI special Judge hearing the case since it was transferred to Mumbai. Justice Utpat's transfer came days after he admonished Amit Shah's lawyer for repeatedly skipping court hearings. The transfer had been described as routine, and sought by the judge the previous month. (Amit Shah's Discharge Vindicates BJP's Stand, Says Rajnath Singh)

Previously, two of the CBI's point persons deeply familiar with the case, were also transferred.

The agency's special prosecutor Ejaz Khan was transferred to Madhya Pradesh in May, ostensibly on a promotion. Sandeep Tamgadge, the investigating officer, is also no longer on the case. (Court Drops Charges Against BJP Chief Amit Shah in Alleged Fake Encounter Killings)

The new special prosecutor, PV Raju, stunned lawyers of Sohrabuddin's family when he argued for only 45 minutes against Amit Shah's plea to be discharged.  His counterparts in the defense counsel had spent two days making their case before Special CBI Judge MB Gosavi.

The bigger shock was yet to come. The CBI said it had no objection to Mr Shah's petition to seek permanent exemption from appearing in the case. This despite lawyers of the victims pointing out that Mr Shah had enough time to visit Mumbai for political events, like the swearing-in of the BJP-led Maharashtra government

Those who had fought other encounter cases saw a design since the change of regime. Lawyer Vrinda Grover said, "A change in political regime will have a direct impact on the CBI's functioning. The court is not in a position to meticulously examine each piece of evidence, that can be done in a trial. For the court to say there is no evidence is startling."

A charge denied by SV Raju, lawyer for Amit Shah. He told NDTV "There is no substance. The CBI has given an elaborate submission. I pointed out every fact that was against Mr Shah, making it easier for the CBI, and he heard the objections".

The debate will rage on. Meanwhile, Amit Shah -- discharged by a court he never set foot in.


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