The Central Bureau of Investigation filed the final status report in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case after completion of investigation. The status report was filed in a sealed cover before a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha.
The bench said that it has decided to hear the CBI's plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to former Gujarat minister Amit Shah, who has been made an accused in the case. The court will hear the matter again on December 14.
The CBI has challenged the bail granted to Shah by the Gujarat High Court.
Sheikh, an alleged gangster, was killed in November 2005 by Gujarat Police which had claimed that he was planning to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The policemen are alleged to have subsequently killed his wife Kauser Bi and another accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati as they were said to have been eyewitnesses to the killing. PTI Shah, a close aide of Chief Minister Narender Modi, quit as Gujarat Home Minister in July this year after being slapped with charges of murder and kidnapping in the killing of Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi.
Jethmalani said that Shah, 46, now has to be proceeded in the apex court as an accused and he has to be heard before any further order is passed relating to him in the case. The counsel appearing for Sheikh's brother Rubabuddin Sheikh, on whose petition the apex court has been monitoring the probe of the case, said Shah will have to file application in this regard.
"Now the position has changed. He is not a minister. He is an accused," the Bench also said. The High Court had granted bail to Shah on October 29 and the CBI had urgently moved an application in the apex court for its cancellation on the same night. However, Shah had walked out of the jail on the same night and the apex court in its urgent hearing at residence of a judge had issued notice with certain conditions on CBI's plea.
He was ordered to be out of Gujarat till November 15 and later on November 10, the apex court extended its order till November 29 after he sought more time to respond to CBI's plea for his bail cancellation. The investigation of the case was entrusted to the CBI on January 12 by the apex court which had asked the agency to complete its probe within six months.
The apex court on August 12 had granted another three months to the CBI to complete the probe. Shah has already moved an application asking the apex court to recall its order for a CBI probe on the grounds of "bias", levelling allegations of conspiracy against its judge and the Centre.
Shah has alleged that Justice Tarun Chatterjee (since retired) who as part of the Bench that ordered the CBI probe in the case on January 12, was under the scanner of the investigating agency in the Uttar Pradesh Provident Fund Scam for "breach of trust".
The application by Shah, which sought recall of the order, contended that the entire exercise was the result of "political conspiracy to launch an unconstitutional assault on the constitutionally formed and democratically elected Gujarat government".
The application by Shah has also raised some points identical to that mentioned in the curative petition filed by senior IPS officer Geeta Johri, who alleged that the CBI was proceeding in the case with a particular political colour.
Like Johri, the former Minister also alleged CBI was coercing witnesses to depose in a particular manner and deputed a officer, who was questioned in connection with the case.
Shah also like Johri demanded removal of Balwinder Singh, special CBI Director, from the probe as he was interrogated in connection with the case when he was the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad.
Asking why the CBI is not investigating the role of the Andhra Pradesh Police in the alleged abduction, Shah sought the removal of Kandaswamy, an IPS officer in-charge of the investigation.
He said that the "most shocking aspect of the CBI investigation is that Balwinder Singh who ought to be answering questions from any investigator of the Sobrabuddin encounter on the role of the AP police is now supervising the very investigation and Geetha Johri, who as the head of the Gujarat CID Crime was heading the investigation of the Sohrabuddin encounter and was wanting to question Balwinder Singh, is now being questioned and even threatened with arrest."
In addition to Shah, the other accused in the case are D G Vanzara and Rajkumar Pandian, both Gujarat cadre IPS officers, and Dinesh M N, a Rajasthan cadre IPS officer. After CBI took over the case, another senior Gujarat cadre IPS officer Abhay Chudasama was arrested on April 28. Sheikh, an alleged gangster, was killed by Gujarat Police with the help of Andhra Pradesh Police claiming he was planning to assassinate Modi.
The apex court had handed over the investigation in the case to the CBI after expressing dissatisfaction over the probe by the Gujarat police's Special Investigation Team headed by Inspector General Geetha Johri. Another senior retired IPS officer O P Mathur was also questioned by the CBI.
Pointing out that there were large-scale discrepancies in the CID investigation in the case, the apex court had said it would be appropriate to order a CBI inquiry to instill confidence among the relatives of the deceased and the people, as those involved were high-ranking police officials. The court had rejected Gujarat government's argument that once a charge sheet had been filed, the court has no power to transfer the investigation to another agency.
The investigation in the case by CBI had stirred a political controversy after Shah was arrested and charged with murder.