SC orders a CBI probe in Sohrabuddin encounter case

As a setback to the Gujarat government lead by Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh taking the case away from the state.

The Supreme Court expressed its dissatisfaction over the conduct of the case by the state government as the latter failed to conduct impartial investigations and filed conflicting reports.

State has expressed that a CBI probe cannot be ordered as the charge sheet has already been filed. However, a Bench consisting of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam held that the investigation by the Gujarat police could not be said to be satisfactorily held.

The court has asked the CBI to investigate the extra-judicial killings of Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi within six months from the date of taking over the case. The state police authorities will hand over the case to the CBI within a fortnight.

Explaining the move the bench said “In this case, taking into consideration the grave allegations made against the high police officials of the State in respect of which some of them have already been in custody, we feel it proper and appropriate and in the interest of justice even at this stage, that is, when the charge sheet has already been submitted, the investigation shall be transferred to the CBI for proper and thorough investigation of the case.”

The court also directed the police departments of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan to co-operate with CBI authorities in conducting the investigation properly and in an appropriate manner. The court had earlier directed the state government to pay an “interim ex gratia” of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the victim.

On November 26, 2006 Sohrabuddin was killed by the Gujarat police in the fake encounter. The police claimed that the gangster was on a mission to kill chief minister Modi. A few days later his wife Kauser Bi was also allegedly shot dead.

The main accused in the case are former DIG of Police, D. B. Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandiyan of Gujarat and Dinesh M. N. of Rajasthan. While Another Gujarat police officer N. K. Ameen is also an accused.

Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh moved the Supreme Court for a CBI probe.

The bench said, “It appears from the charge sheet itself that it does not reveal the identity of police personnel of Andhra Pradesh even when it states that Sohrabuddin and two others were picked up by Gujarat Police personnel, accompanied by seven personnel of Hyderabad Police. It also appears from the charge sheet that Kausarbi was taken into one of the two Tata Sumo jeeps in which these police personnel accompanied the accused.”