The Gujarat high court on Tuesday held that the special CBI court is competent to take cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the investigating agency in the fake encounter case of Tulsi Prajapati.
The court criticised the CBI for deviating from the judicial tradition by filing the charge sheet in the case before the Danta Court in Banaskantha, which had become a major issue after the accused in the case had objected to it, citing jurisdiction issue.
Justice R S Shukla, while setting aside the order of the Danta Court to take cognisance of the charge sheet, also directed it to allow CBI to take all the papers filed along with the chargesheet and present it before the CBI court.
Five accused who were named in the chargesheet, including ex-DGP P C Pande and ADGP Geeta Johri, had challenged the September 18 order of the JMFC, Danta, which had accepted the charge sheet filed by CBI saying that it was the competent court to take its cognisance.
Criticising the CBI, the judge said, "High Court and state of Gujarat have formed two special CBI courts by issuing notification on January 11, 2002 and since then a series of cases which have been investigated by the agency are filed in these two courts.
"In this particular case (Tulsi Prajapati), CBI has conveniently preferred to file charge sheet in Danta court, whereas the agency has registered the FIR in the same special CBI court," the court observed.
When the probing agency is aware of the judicial tradition of special CBI court's jurisdiction, the high court is wondering how did it file the chargesheet in Danta court, the court observed.
Advocate Mukul Sinha, appearing for Tulsi's mother Narmada Bai Prajapati, had also supported the prayer of the accused by telling the court that Danta Court does not have jurisdiction to take cognisance of the chargesheet.
Prajapati, a witness of the abduction and subsequent killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kauser Bi, was killed in a fake encounter allegedly by Gujarat Police at Chhapri, near the temple town of Ambaji in Banaskantha, on December 28, 2006.
CBI had filed the chargesheet in the Prajapati case on September 4.
In the charge sheet, Amit Shah, a close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and a former Minister of State for Home, has been mentioned as a kingpin in the murder of Prajapati.
Shah and 17 others, including Johri and suspended IPS officers Rajkumar Pandian and D G Vanzara, have been charged with murder, conspiracy and destruction of the evidence, among other sections of IPC.
Besides, retired ADGP O P Mathur and DySP and former Prajapati case investigating officer R K Patel have been charged with criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and dereliction of duty.
Apart from Johri and Pande, the others accused who had opposed the Danta Court order in separate petitions include Pandian, R K Patel and O P Mathur.