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Probe an eyewash: HC acquits ex-BJP MP in RTI activist's murder case

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
May 07, 2024 00:05 IST
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The Gujarat high court on Monday allowed the appeals of former Bharatiya Janaa Party MP Dinu Solanki and six others against their conviction by a Central Bureau of Investigation court in the case of RTI activist Amit Jethwa's murder in 2010.

IMAGE: Dinu Bogha Solanki (second from left), former BJP MP, in police custody after sentenced to life imprisonment by the Ahmedabad CBI court in connection with the murder case of RTI activist Amit Jethwa in Ahmedabad, July 11, 2019. Photograph: ANI Photo

Observing that the trial court conducted proceedings with a "predetermined notion of conviction", a division bench of Justices AS Supehia and Vimal K Vyas quashed the CBI court's order sentencing Solanki and the six others to life imprisonment.


Jethwa was shot dead outside the high court on July 20, 2010, after he tried to expose illegal mining activities allegedly involving Solanki by seeking information under the Right to Information Act.

The CBI court sentenced Solanki and six others to life imprisonment in 2019 and ordered them to pay a fine of Rs 15 lakh in the case of murder and criminal conspiracy.

The high court later suspended the life sentences of Dinu Solanki and his nephew Shiva Solanki, also convicted in the case.

In its judgment, the court said the case will be remembered as "an antithesis to 'Satyamev Jayate' " (truth alone triumphs) and observed that the investigation appears to be an eyewash from the inception.

"We reiterate that the entire investigation, right from the inception of the offence, appears to be perfunctory and prejudiced. The prosecution has failed to secure the confidence of the witnesses," the bench said in its order.

The trial court, "on a preconceived notion of conviction, has analysed the evidence dehors the statute and settled legal precedents. The trial court was duty bound to apply the law as written and not as per its instinct", it said.

Highlighting flaws in the investigation, the court came down on the Central Bureau of Investigation and said it carried out "a slipshod and perfunctory investigation".

"All efforts are made to see that the truth is buried forever; the perpetrators have succeeded in doing so. Evenly, the trial court has conducted the trial proceedings with a predetermined notion of conviction," the court said in its order.

"Resultantly the common judgment on the order of conviction dated July 11, 2019, passed by the special judge, CBI court...whereby the accused have been convicted for the offence under section 302 (murder) and section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of Indian

Penal Code (IPC) and are sentenced is quashed and set aside," the HC order said.

Quoting a Supreme Court judgment, the bench observed that the survival of democracy and the unity and integrity of the nation depends upon the realisation that "constitutional morality is no less essential than constitutional legality".

After Jethwa's murder, an FIR was registered against two unidentified assailants, and the investigation was transferred to the state police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which later filed a chargesheet.

In September 2012, the high court handed over the investigation to the CBI, which arrested Dinu Solanki in November 2013.

On July 11, 2019, Dinu Solanki and his nephew were convicted of Jethwa's murder.

The high court in September 2021 suspended Dinu Solanki's sentence pending his appeal against conviction by the CBI court.

Last year, it also suspended the life sentence of his nephew Shiva Solanki and granted him bail pending the hearing of his appeal against his conviction by the CBI court.

In its judgment, the court noted that even when a police constable was present just a few feet away from where the assailants shot dead Jethwa, and police officials arrived at the scene of the crime within a few minutes, "it is appalling and equally astounding that the assailants were not apprehended, and they 'escaped' [emphasis added] from the limits of Ahmedabad."

The high court, in its judgment dated September 25, 2012, handed over the probe to the CBI, reposing immense faith in the agency, the bench said.

The facts, however, indicate that the CBI also carried out "a slipshod and perfunctory investigation," it said.

The cross-examination of hostile witnesses appears to be an empty formality, with no efforts made to extract relevant evidence, which has corroborative value, it said.

"The witnesses who were cross-examined were all enjoying police protection, but all of them have turned hostile and have ditched the prosecution," it said.

There were loopholes in the investigation, and investigating officers "have tried to fix square pegs into round holes and have presented nothing more than unsubstantiated assertion", the court observed.

It also said proceedings against only eight witnesses were required to be taken under section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for not supporting the prosecution's case.

The trial court has initiated proceedings against 38 witnesses.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.