Mumbai: A day after the Bombay High Court pulled up the CBI for its inability to protect the prosecution witnesses during the trial in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, the CBI on Tuesday told the court that none of the witnesses had approached the agency to seek protection at any stage.
A single bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere had on Monday questioned the seriousness with which the CBI is conducting the trial. This observation by the high court came as almost 30 witnesses have turned hostile during the trial so far. The court had remarked on Monday that “it is the duty of the CBI to protect the witnesses from being intimidated, so they can depose fearlessly.”
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, representing the CBI, told the court that it has not received any complaint about any threats and that the agency is willing to provide protection if witnesses come forward with complaints.
He told the court that none of the witnesses have faced any pressure and if they require, protection will be given without any hesitation.
The court, in the last hearing, observed, “CBI cannot just file a chargesheet and leave it at that. It is the duty of the agency to provide protection.” Questioning the attitude of the agency, the court had said, “What action are you taking in cases where witnesses have turned hostile? Are they being charged for perjury for giving false evidence?”
The court is currently hearing a petition filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh on August 8, 2017 challenging the discharge of senior police officials who were accused in the case. The CBI court had discharged D G Vanzara from Gujarat and M N Dinesh from Rajasthan from the case on August 1. CBI, too, has challenged the discharge of officer Dalpat Singh Rathod and that of Dr Narendra Amin.
Sohrabuddin, who was alleged to be a local gangster by the Gujarat police, while travelling with his wife Kausarbi and aide Tulsiram Prajapati in November 2005, were allegedly abducted by a team of policemen attached to Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorism Squad and members of the Special Task Force from Rajasthan.
The couple was allegedly detained near Gandhinagar and two days later, Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter. Kausarbi and Tulsiram too were later killed. The case was transferred to Mumbai following orders from the Supreme Court.