Gujarat ATS chief D G Vanzarais discharged by Bombay High Court in Soharbuddin encounter case

Applications challenging discharge granted to them by trial court were devoid of merit, says HC; the court had been hearing six revision petitions filed by accused policemen seeking discharge in the ‘fake’ encounter case

The Bombay High Court has discharged former Gujarat ATS chief D G Vanzarais and five others in the 2005-2006 encounter case of suspected gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their aide Tulsiram Prajapati.

Five revision applications challenging the discharge granted to five accused policemen by a trial court, and one by an officer challenging the rejection of his discharge orders by the same court had been filed in the HC, and a single bench led by Justice A M Badar had on July 16 reserved the verdict on them.

The five revision petitions had challenged the discharge of Vanzara, Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandian, Gujarat Police officer N K Amin, Rajasthan cadre IPS officer Dinesh M N and Rajasthan police constable Dalpat Singh Rathod in the case by a trial court. While three of them had been filed by Sohrabuddin Shaikh’s brother Rubabuddin Shaikh, who challenged the discharge to Pandian, Dinesh and Vanzara, the CBI had filed the remaining two pleas challenging the discharge of Amin and Rathod.

The court held that the applications challenging the discharge granted to them were devoid of merit.

Justice Badar had been conducting hearings on the revision pleas on a daily basis since July 4. He also conducting a separate hearing on a discharge plea filed by Gujarat IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal, and allowed his discharge too in the case on Monday.

The CBI had booked the five officials, along with 33 others, alleging their involvement in the “fake” encounters of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar Bi in November 2005 and Tulsiram Prajapati in December 2006.

The Gujarat Police had then claimed Sohrabuddin Shaikh had terror links.

The case had been shifted to a special court in Mumbai from Gujarat following a Supreme Court order. The encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar Bi, and Prajapati were clubbed together in 2013 after the apex curt decision.

Between 2014 and 2017, the special court discharged 15 of these 38 accused, including 14 police officials and BJP president Amit Shah.

As per the CBI chargesheet, gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar Bi were abducted by officers of the Gujarat ATS and the Rajasthan Police from near Hyderabad, and killed in a fake encounter in November 2005.

Prajapati, an eye-witness to these killings, was shot dead in another staged encounter in December 2006 by some Rajasthan Police officials at the behest of the Gujarat and Rajasthan officers, who had been involved in the killing of Sohrabuddin and Kausar bi.

A co-accused in the encounter case, Vipul Aggarwal’s discharge plea had been rejected by the trial court last year. He had then approached the HC challenging the order, seeking parity with the others discharged.

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