Incarcerated IPS officer Rajkumar Pandiyan, an accused in Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing case, has been threatening witnesses from inside the jail, the Central Bureau of Investigation alleged before the Gujarat High Court.
CBI counsel K T S Tulsi, during a hearing on the bail plea of Pandiyan, submitted two sealed covers containing what he said statements of witnesses recorded under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to support his claim. The statements under this Section are admissible as evidence.
Justice M R Shah, hearing the case, reserved the order on the bail application and the date for ruling on it will be declared later. Tulsi argued the probe into the high-profile case is at a stage where safety of witnesses becomes very important as otherwise it would be difficult to reach the trial stage. He opposed Pandiyan's contention that since his arrest in April 2007, the circumstances pertaining to the 2005 case have changed and the investigation has been completed.
Tulsi argued investigation was still on and releasing the accused on bail could prove harmful for the probe which is at a critical stage. The Gujarat CID initially probed the case which was later handed over to the premier central agency. The suspended IPS officer moved the HC seeking bail on the grounds of parity as former Gujarat Minister Amit Shah, a prime accused in the fake encounter case, was given
Pandiyan's counsel S B Vakil had argued in the court that his client's bail was first rejected in 2008 but since then circumstances pertaining to the case had changed. Vakil had said the Supreme Court stayed the trial of the case in 2008 and there was uncertainty over when the trial would commence.
Also, the case has been transfered to CBI by the apex court, after which the agency filed a chargesheet against Pandiyan and others and submitted the final report in SC, he added.
Vakil contended that since Shah was granted bail by the high court in October, his client also deserves relief and there were no apprehensions of his interfering with the probe. There was no point in keeping him in jail where he has been for over three years, the defence counsel said.
Pandiyan, along with other IPS officer-accused in the case, D G Vanzara and Dinesh M N, was arrested by CID in April
Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster, was killed in a stage-managed gunfight on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on November 26, 2005. A few days later, Sohrabuddin's wife Kaursarbi was also killed allegedly by the policemen and her body was burnt
and ashes thrown in Narmada river. According to CBI, Tulsiram Prajapati, a key witness of the twin killings and an aide of Sohrabuddin, was also shot dead in a police encounter in December 2006.
Over a dozen policemen have been arrested in the Sohrabuddin case.