Mumbai: A batch of petitions challenging the discharge of some senior IPS officers in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh has been assigned to a new single-judge bench of the Bombay High Court, three weeks after a judge started day-to-day hearing on the matter.
A notice published on the high court website this evening said that Justice Revati Mohite-Dere, who was dealing with the petitions, will no longer hear criminal revision applications.
Apart from Justice Mohite-Dere, the assignment of cases of some other judges has also been changed.
Justice Mohite-Dere will now hear matters concerning anticipatory bail applications, while Justice N W Sambre will deal with all criminal revision applications, the notice said.
Revision pleas filed by Sohrabuddin's brother Rubabuddin, challenging the discharge of IPS officers DG Vanzara, Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandian, and two revision applications filed by the CBI against the discharge of former Gujarat IPS officer NK Amin and Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod were being heard by Justice Mohite-Dere.
She had already heard a major part of arguments by all the parties in the case on four out of the five revision applications.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, who is representing Vanzara, Amin, Pandian and Dinesh MN, was to complete his arguments on behalf of Pandian on Monday, and the single-judge bench was to begin hearing arguments on the plea challenging Vanzara's discharge after that.
During the course of the hearing, Justice Mohite-Dere had made some sharp observations about the CBI, saying the court was not getting enough help from the agency.
Earlier, Justice Mohite-Dere had also overturned the trial court's gag order which had barred the media from reporting the trial proceedings.
Mr Rubabuddin's lawyer Gautam Tiwari said he has the option of approaching the Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, VK Tahilramani, on Monday and request that the partially heard matter be allowed to continue before Justice Mohite-Dere.
Mr Tiwari, however, said he was yet to receive clear instructions on the matter from his client.
Mr Jethmalani said he had not received any information on the change of assignment, and added that if it was true, there was no need to "read too much into it".
"Assignments in courts change everyday. There's no reason to read too much into it," he said.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a gangster with alleged terror links, and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in a suspected fake encounter by the Gujarat police in November 2005. Sheikh's aide Tulsiram Prajapati was killed in another alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in December 2006.
Of the 38 persons named by the CBI as accused, 15, including senior IPS officers D G Vanzara, Pandian, Dinesh MN, and BJP president Amit Shah, were discharged by the CBI court in Mumbai between August 2016 and September 2017.