Apex court may ask Raghavan panel to probe Sohrabuddin killing

September 24th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday indicated it might ask a team headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director R.K. Raghavan to probe the November 2005 staged killings of Ujjain resident Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife.A bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice Aftab Alam gave this indication during argument by counsel for Sohrabbuddin Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh, who sought a probe by the CBI into the alleged staged killings of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi and their friend Tulsi Ram Prajapati by the Gujarat Police.

On the apex court’s order, the killings were being investigated by a Gujarat Police team headed by Inspector General of Police Geeta Johri.

The bench said it might transfer the probe to the Raghavan Committee as Sheikh’s counsel Dushyant Dave listed out a series of “lacunae in the probe” by Johri’s team.

“What if the case is handed over to the Raghavan Committee?” observed the bench and sought the Gujarat government’s reply on it.

Gujarat government counsel Mukul Rohtagi and Hemantika Wahi responded to the suggestion saying it might be considered.

Earlier Dave, listing out the lacunae in the probe, said the findings were shorn of qualities needed to secure the conviction of the police officials accused of involvement in the killings.

He said the charge sheet, which details the findings of the probe, does not attribute any proper motive to the police officials for the killings and in the absence of a proper motive the prosecution would not be able to secure their conviction from the trial court.

Dave said that Johri’s team attributed motives like winning accolades and promotions to Deputy Inspector General D.G. Vanjara and his team for the killings, which cannot be legally sound motives for securing convictions.

He said the real motive behind the killings was “to implement the state policy to eliminate people of certain community at regular intervals”.

Dave said there were at least seven Andhra Pradesh policemen who were witnesses to the abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife and friend by Vanjara’s team from a bus on its way to Sangli in Maharashtra from Hyderabad.

But none of the Andhra Pradesh policemen were made witness to the case, said Dave.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife and their friend Tulsiram Prajapati were allegedly killed after being abducted by Gujarat Police in November 2005.

After the abduction, DIG Vanjara announced Sheikh’s killing in a police shootout, dubbing him a Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.

During a probe into the staged killings, the state police booked several of its officers, including Vanzara and one Indian Police Service officer from Rajasthan Police and arrested them for their role in the killings.

Johri’s team had also been examining the involvement of some police officers from Hyderabad.

The Raghavan Committee is probing 10 other cases of post-Godhra communal riots in the state.

On March 26 this year, another bench of the apex court constituted a police team headed by Raghavan to probe some specific post-Godhra riots cases, which include those of rape, murder and arson, at various places in Ahmedabad and elsewhere, including at Godhra, Gulbarga Society, Naroda Patiya and Best Bakery.

The bench of Justice Arjit Pasayat, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Aftab Alam had formed the Raghavan Committee to probe these cases on petitions by the National Human Rights Commission and some civil societies, besides several individuals, affected by the communal carnage that broke out following the burning of 52 Hindu pilgrims in a coach of Sabarmati Express on Feb 27 2002.

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