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Amit Shah gets respite from SC

The Supreme Court has rejected the plea of the Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] to cancel the bail granted to the former Gujarat minister Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case but it agreed to transfer the trial from Gujarat to Mumbai.

'We are against the plea for the cancellation of the bail, and the petition is dismissed,' a bench comprising the justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said on Thursday. 'We, however, allow the transfer petition and agree to transfer the case to Mumbai,' the bench said. The court also permitted Shah to enter and travel in Gujarat in view of the upcoming assembly election.

The CBI had approached the apex court against the bail granted to Shah by the Gujarat high court in the case of fake encounter killing of the gangster Sheikh and for shifting the trial of the case to a place outside Gujarat.

Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat's Anti-Terrorist Squad [ATS] from Hyderabad and killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.

Shah, a close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was arrested by the CBI on 25 July 2010 and had spent over three months in the Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad.

The agency had earlier urged the apex court to transfer the trial outside Gujarat, arguing that the witnesses were being intimidated and the trial could not be held in a free and fair manner.

The bench said, 'In that case, if the allegations pertain to the period posterior to this order, the trial court shall examine the matter carefully and take an independent decision without being influenced by this order declining to cancel the bail granted to him.'

While transferring the case to Mumbai, the bench referred to the delayed proceedings meted out to N K Amin, the suspended police officer, who offered to turn approver in the case. It noted that the delay in dealing with his plea 'gave sufficient time to the other accused to win Amin over to their side by giving him intimidations and/or inducements'.
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