Apex court issues notice to Amit Shah on bail

The Supreme Court Saturday issued notice to former Gujarat minister Amit Shah on a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking stay of the Gujarat High Court order granting him bail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

Shah, former minister of state for home, was arrested by the CBI July 25 for his alleged involvement in the killing.

He was granted bail by the high court Friday on his executing a personal bond of Rs.1 lakh along with a surety of like amount.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.M. Lodha, directed Shah to stay away from the territorial limits of Gujarat till Nov 15 – the next date of hearing.

The court said this after the CBI told the court that if his bail could not be cancelled then he should not be allowed to stay in Gujarat as he could influence witnesses.

The matter was heard by the apex court judges at the Krishna Menon Marg residence of Justice Alam here.

Shah has been given time till Nov 10 to file his reply to the CBI appeal against the high court order.

The apex court gave the CBI time till Nov 12 to file its rejoinder to Shah’s response. K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the CBI, told the court that his release at 10.30 p.m. Friday night was in violation of the jail rules.

Opposing the CBI plea, Shah’s counsel Bhupinder Yadav said that now that he had been released on bail, his liberty could not be taken away without substantive grounds.

The counsel told the court that as it was a festive season, Amit Shah’s right to celebrate Diwali with his family should not be taken away. The court said that “Diwali was everywhere”.

The CBI in its appeal accused Amit Shah being a part of “criminal conspiracy” who gave “illegal instructions” to then Additional Director General of Police, CID (crime) G.C. Raiger regarding investigations into the encounter case.

The appeal said that Raiger had to suffer being “immediately and unceremoniously” transferred Feb 3, 2007, for not carrying out the wishes of Shah.

The appeal said that on Shah’s instructions, the case papers of the Sohrabuddin case were sought to be changed to exclude the names of police officers D.G. Vanzara, R.K. Pandiyan and others.

The CBI said the investigations revealed that Amit Shah and Abhay Chudasama “while in judicial custody, conspired with some Gujarat Police officers to destroy the crucial evidence to shield the accused from the law”.

The appeal cited the instance when one of the witnesses, Mohammed Azam Khan, was allegedly abducted Sep 21, 2009, and was forced to “prepare and sign a false affidavit” retracting his statement given to CBI before a magistrate.

Citing various instances and chain of events, the CBI told the court that Shah was the “main conspirator and has committed the offences punishable under various provisions of criminal law”.

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