Though the prosecution "tried", it failed to prove any "politician-police" nexus in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati, a special CBI court had said while acquitting all the 22 accused on December 21. Special CBI Judge S J Sharma had acquitted all the accused due to insufficient evidence while expressing sorrow over the loss of three lives. "I have no hesitation to conclude that the evidence which has been laid and adduced and discussed and appreciated vividly, though the prosecution has tried, it failed to prove any politician-police nexus," he said.
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The remarks were part of the 358-page judgement. Copy of the full judgement was only made available on Monday. The court stated that the CBI probed the alleged fake encounter killings with a 'pre-conceived and premeditated' theory to implicate political leaders. Of the 22 accused who were acquitted, 21 were junior-level police officials from Gujarat and Rajasthan police.
The court has noted in its judgement that it was incumbent on part of the prosecution to procure sanction from appropriate authority to prosecute the 21 accused as they were all government servants.
"The 21 accused were certainly acting in discharge of their official duties. The 21 accused were doubtlessly public servants when the alleged offence is alleged to have been committed," the judgement said.
"In such circumstances, it was necessary for the investigation agency to obtain sanction of competent authority before filing charge sheet. In absence of the sanction, the accused are entitled for acquittal," the court said.
According to the CBI, the police officials were part of teams which abducted and killed Shaikh, his wife and Prajapati in staged encounters. The court said there was nothing to show that service weapons of the accused policemen were used in the killings.
The three victims who were returning to Sangli in Maharashtra from Hyderabad in a bus were taken into custody by a police team on the intervening night of November 22-23, 2005. The couple was taken in one vehicle and Prajapati in another.
The CBI had said Shaikh was killed on November 26, 2005, allegedly by a joint team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police, and Kausar Bi three days later.
Prajapati, who was lodged in Udaipur Central Jail, was killed in an encounter on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border on December 27, 2006, the investigation agency had alleged.
The court also noted that the prosecution had failed to prove that Prajapati was killed in a fake and staged encounter.
"No doubt that Tulsiram Prajapati suffered a homicidal death," the court said. It added that statements of witnesses on Prajapati escaping from the custody of Rajasthan police in December 2006 appeared "cogent and convincing".
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The court noted the evidence showed that there was an incident of cross firing between Prajapati and a police team. The CBI had charged 38 persons, including BJP chief Amit Shah, who was the then Gujarat home minister, Gulabchand Kataria, the then Rajasthan home minister, and senior IPS officers like D G Vanzara and P C Pande in the case.
The prosecution examined 210 witnesses, of which 92 turned hostile. Shah was arrested in the case in July 2010, but released on bail by the Gujarat High Court in October that year. He was discharged by the CBI court in December 2014. The December 21 verdict was Judge Sharma's last judgement of his career. He is set to retire on December 31.