Shah, a key accused in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, is allowed entry into Gujarat after SC quashes CBI’s plea to cancel his bail plea
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, 27 September, dismissed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea to cancel bail of former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah. Shah along with four other IPS officers is an accused in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, which is being investigated by the CBI. This also means that he would now be allowed to enter Gujarat. The apex court also transferred the trial of the encounter out of Gujarat to the state of Maharashtra. The CBI in its plea had maintained that Shah, being an influential person, could tamper with evidence. The other accused in this case are still in jail.
Sohrabuddin Shiekh and his wife Kauser Bi were allegedly abducted by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Gujarat from Hyderabad and killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in 2005. After the case went to the CBI, Shah was arrested and had spent time in the Sabarmati Jail, Ahmedabad, before being granted bail.
There were allegations that Sohrabuddin was an extortionist and was demanding money from the powerful marble lobby of Rajasthan. The CBI also points to the powerful politician and police nexus in Sohrabuddin’s killing. Besides Shah, a BJP leader from Rajasthan was questioned in this case.
The SC bench, while imposing strict conditions on Shah, said “the apprehension expressed by the CBI that Shah may misuse the freedom and try to subvert the prosecution cannot be lightly brushed aside”. It also directed Shah to give an undertaking in writing to the trial court that he would not commit any breach of the conditions of the bail bond and would not try to influence any witnesses or tamper with the prosecution evidence in any manner. It also directed him to be present at the CBI office every alternate Saturday at 11.00 AM.
The bench warned that in case Shah commits any breach of the conditions of the bail bond or the undertaking given to the court, it will be open to the CBI to move the trial court for cancellation of his bail.
The case assumes political significance as Shah is seen as a close associate of the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Reacting sharply to the development, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “Just because his bail is accepted, it does not mean that he is innocent. The fact that the case has been shifted from Gujarat is a sad commentary on the fact that a complainant does not feel assured of in the great Narendra Modi’s state of Gujarat.”
Shah, however, said “I wanted this case to be shifted out of Gujarat. I will emerge as a winner as this is a political case. I will go and aggressively campaign in Gujarat elections.” The assembly elections are round the corner and political tempers will only rise with both the Congress and BJP claiming their victory in this judgment.