Millennium Post

Relief for Amit Shah, Opposition cries foul

On the other hand the BJP has demanded an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the UPA government having foisted false cases on their leader.

Shah was also discharged on Tuesday as an accused in the case involving the killing of Sohrabuddin’s wife Kauser Bi and murder of Tulsi Prajapati, who was said to be an eyewitness of the encounter. While passing the brief order, Special CBI judge MB Gosavi said, “I am of the opinion that the inference drawn by CBI is not accepted in totality and he (Shah) cannot be charged as an accused. There isn’t sufficient evidence against Accused no 16 (Amit Shah) to put him to trial. The CBI’s inference is not acceptable when the case is seen in totality.” The judge found most of the evidence against the BJP chief  to be ‘hearsay’.

“The CBI said phone records show Shah had made multiple calls to the accused officers around the time of the killings. But it is not unnatural for a home minister to work closely with the police as terrorist activities have increased and are rampant all over the world,” the judge said.

Reacting to the discharge order, Opposition parties including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the CPI (M), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lambasted the CBI for weakening Shah’s case — making way for his freedom.

In September 2013, the probe agency had charge-sheeted Shah, the former home minister of Gujarat, and 18 others, including several police officers. On November 26, 2005, Sohrabuddin, Sheikh, an alleged arms dealer, was killed in an encounter with the police in Ahmedabad.

His wife was found murdered three days later. Gujarat police had than claimed that he had planned to assassinate political leaders. Later, Tulsiram Prajapati was also killed by the Gujarat police on December 28, 2006.

Sensing foul play, Sohrabuddin’s brother, Rubabuddin, had filed a complaint claiming that it was a case of cold blooded murder. At that time the CBI had alleged that Shah was involved in the killings. Shah stepped down as home minister in 2010 and was arrested. Three months later he got bail.

Shah’s lawyer, SV Raju, had contested that one cannot be charged on the basis of hearsay and cited section 6 of evidence act. He also had alleged that the Congress government had used the CBI as a tool to implicate Shah in the case.

“It was a conspiracy hatched by the Congress party. They wanted the government in Gujarat to topple; therefore the conspiracy was hatched with CBI’s help,” Raju had said.

Senior counsel Mihir Desai, who had appeared for complainant Rubabuddin, had argued in court that Shah was in frequent touch with police officers S Rajkumar Pandyan and DG Vanzara. ‘While going through the charge sheet, it cannot rule out that Shah was either trying to destroy evidence or fabricate it. Hence, the discharge plea should be rejected,” Desai said.

Shocked with the ruling, Rubabuddin (Sohrabuddin’s brother) said that they will move the Bombay High Court against the order. “The CBI has been misused to protect Amit Shah,” he alleged. A CBI press statement issued on Tuesday said, “The CBI is awaiting the court’s order. We will study the court order once it is received and thereafter will take appropriate view.”

Meanwhile, TMC national spokesperson Derek O’Brien wrote on micro-blogging site twitter, “We said this before, CBI is Credibility Broken Irreparably. He was discharged after top lawyers defended him for three days and CBI prosecutors got only 15 minutes. Wah!” Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi questioned, why the CBI counsel argued ‘only for 15 minutes’ whereas defence lawyers argued for Shah for three days and why the agency also did not hire any Special Public Prosecutor for the case.

“It is very strange and worrisome that a special court has discharged Shah. CBI is now completely chained, caged and totally immobilized probe agency and it is under government pressure,” he said, while asking why the Special CBI judge, Special Public Prosecutor and Investigating Officers of the agency were ‘changed’. “Earlier, CBI claimed to have enough evidence to put Shah behind bars, then suddenly a judgement that there is not enough evidence,” Singhvi wondered.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders too supported the charges leveled by the Congress and demanded a re-probe in the case. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury termed Shah’s acquittal as a ‘real fake encounter’.

However, BJP leaders welcomed the decision and termed it as ‘justice prevails.’ Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “I had written a letter on 27th September 2013 to the then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in my capacity as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. The letter pertains to misuse of CBI against BJP leadership.” Party spokesperson Srikant Sharma told mediapersons at party headquarters false charges had been leveled against Shah by the Congress-led government and the Congress president should apologise.
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