The Gujarat High Court Friday allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) two days’ custody of former minister of state for home and law Amit Shah for further investigation in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing in a staged shootout.
While quashing a designated judge’s order that denied the remand, Justice Akil Kureshi upheld the arguments advanced by CBI’s lawyer K.T.S. Tulsi that the ruling was erroneous and lacked understanding of law.
The court has allowed the CBI to interrogate Shah on Saturday and Sunday in their custody and then hand him over to the prison. The court has rejected Shah’s counsel Ram Jethmalani’s plea of video recording the interrogation.
A special court had on Wednesday rejected the CBI’s demand for 10 days remand of Shah and had upheld Jethmalani’s argument that the investigating agency can only interrogate in judicial custody but cannot seek custody for interrogation after filing of a chargesheet.
Tulsi submitted before the court that CBI needed to interrogate Shah in their custody as he did not cooperate during the questioning in jail and failed to discharge his duty to ‘truthfully cooperate in interrogation’.
He argued that Shah was in possession of crucial data that may lead the CBI to strengthen its case.
Tulsi also argued that Shah was the kingpin of the conspiracy and the extortion racket. He claimed that Shah was in possession of the crucial data of original phone call records of November-December 2005 and the data given to CBI by the state CID were doctored.
Jethmalani, on the other hand, said Shah was produced before the court immediately after his arrest and CBI did not exercise its right to have custody for 24 hours.
He further submitted that even when he was produced before the court the CBI did not seek his remand in custody and opted to send him to judicial custody. He added that the court took cognizance and passed a judicial order in Shah’s presence.
Jethmalani also argued that Shah had never been shown as absconding accused and the CBI had not asked him to appear before it even six months after the investigation was handed over to it by the apex court. He claimed that if the CBI was suspicious of Shah it would have at the very least called him for questioning during that period.
The court has allowed the CBI to interrogate Shah on Saturday and Sunday in their custody and then hand him over to the prison.
The court has rejected Shah’s counsel’s plea of video recording the interrogation while the former minister would be in custodial remand.
The Gujarat anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has been accused of killing Sheikh in a staged shootout Nov 26, 2005, in Ahmedabad. His wife Kauser-bi had been missing ever since.
Shah has been accused of calling up policemen involved in the killing of Sheikh, who police claimed was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative.