The Supreme Court was told Thursday that its 2010 order directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout killing in Gujarat suffered from an “apparent bias” and there was a “motivation to please the CBI”.
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for accused and former Gujarat minister Amit Shah, urged an apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.P. Desai to declare the proceedings flowing from the court’s order Jan 12, 2010 on CBI probe as invalid.
In a veiled reference to now retired Justice Tarun Chatterjee, who pronounced the Jan 12, 2010 order, Jethmalani told the apex court there was a “motivation to please the CBI”.
“Declare these proceedings non est (non-existent in law). It is a duty that your lordship owes to this court. Not so much to me. Not so much to Amit Shah,” Jethmalani told the court.
He said this in the context of the CBI investigations into Ghaziabad district courts provident fund (PF) scam in which the name of Justice Chatterjee too had figured. On Jan 12, 2010, when the CBI was asked to probe into the Sohrabuddin case, the investigation into the PF scam was on.
Jethmalani told the court that the CBI could not garner any evidence to make a prima facie case pointing to the involvement of Shah in the Sohrabuddin case.
He said this while winding up his arguments opposing the CBI plea challenging the grant of bail to Shah by the Gujarat High Court Oct 29, 2010 and transfer of the trial outside Gujarat.
“What to talk of enough evidence, there is no evidence” and thus “no prima facie case of involvement of Amit Shah” in Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout case, Jethmalani told the court.
The senior counsel said that there was no evidence “establishing the meeting of minds between Amit Shah and 13 other perpetrators” (Gujarat policemen).
Jethmalani pleaded for emulating the disclosure guidelines of the British attorney general under which a disclosure officer goes into the entire evidence of the investigating agency and makes available to the accused the material that he could use to discredit the prosecution witnesses, weaken prosecution case and get bail.
At the end of the proceedings, the court asked Jethmalani that after hearing all the parties “if we are persuaded not to grant unconditional bail [to Amit Shah] then…” make it conditional.
But add that if under some circumstances Shah has to enter Gujarat he could do so by moving the high court taking its permission.
It may be recalled that on the plea by the CBI, the apex court Oct 30, 2010, though declined to cancel the bail but asked Shah to remain outside Gujarat.
Shah was arrested by the CBI July 25, 2010, for his alleged involvement in Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s killing.