Sohrabuddin killing: Apex court issues notice on case transfer (Lead)

January 19th, 2011 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) The Supreme court Wednesday issued notice to former Gujarat minister Amit Shah and 18 state police officers accused in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout on a CBI petition seeking transfer of the case outside Gujarat for a free and fair trial. While issuing the notice, the apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.M. Lodha tagged the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) petition with the main case. The case will come up for hearing Jan 27.

Seeking the transfer of trial to Mumbai or any other state, the CBI said that the “respondents have consciously given a communal hue to the entire case, thereby polarizing the religious feelings in the state”.

“In a state of ascending disharmony and unrest between religious communities, it is virtually impossible for the justice delivery machinery to render justice objectively and without fear or favour,” the agency said.

The petition submitted that “free and fair trial would not be held if the same is conducted in Gujarat”.

Though the Gujarat government was not made a respondent, it sought to be impleaded in the matter in the wake of adverse observation about the justice delivery machinery in the state. The court granted the plea.

Targeting Shah for possible derailment of the justice delivery system, the petition said that since he (Amit Shah) was already out on bail there is “greater threat that the evidence will be tampered with and further annihilations are imminent”.

Given the clout and position of the former minister of state, the petition apprehended that at “every stage of the investigation the state machinery would be abused …”

The investigating agency said that it was facing “obstacles and hindrance posed by the state machinery and the state police”.

The petition said the respondents were “extremely influential in the state and have their tentacles deep into the state machinery. Consequently, they had been holding the reins of the investigation till the CBI was made the investigating agency”.

Soharabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausarbi were picked up Gujarat Police while they were travelling to Sangali in Maharashtra from Hyderabad Nov 22, 2005. On Nov 26, 2005 he was killed in a staged shootout in Gujarat by policemen belonging to anti-terrorist squad.

Kausarbi too is believed to have been killed later by Gujarat police.

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