Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case: All 22 arraigned freed, Judge cites lack of proof

A Central Investigation Bureau special court on Friday acquitted all 22 accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, 13 years after filing of the charges. Special CBI judge SJ Sharma observed that evidence submitted in the case did not reveal any conspiracy.The 22 in the dock were acquitted of all charges, including murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were killed on November 26, 2005, in an alleged fake encounter conducted by Gujarat police. On December 26, 2006, Sohrabuddin’s accomplice, Tulsi Prajapati, too, met the same fate.

Delivering his last verdict, Judge SJ Sharma said the witnesses and proof were inadequate to prove conspiracy and murder. The Judge observed that circumstantial evidence was not substantial.
”Government machinery and prosecution put in a lot of effort, 210 witnesses were brought but satisfactory evidence didn’t come and witnesses turned hostile. No fault of prosecutor if witnesses don’t speak,” the judge ruled.

The court earlier discharged, for want of evidence, 16 of the 38 people charge sheeted by the CBI.
Initially, there were 38 accused but prior to hearing of the case, some politicians and those in higher echelons of bureaucracy were absolved of the charges. Among the 22 accused, twenty-one were junior policemen while one belonged to ‘outside’ the state. All were discharged. The prosecution examined 210 witnesses, of whom 92 turned hostile.

Among the accused were Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief Amit Shah, Rajasthan ex-minister Gulabchand Kataria; former top cop of Gujarat police P C Pandey; and Gujarat’s Police’s former senior officer D G Vanjara. Mr Shah was freed of all charges four years ago.

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