A special CBI court in Mumbai, on Friday, 21 December, acquitted all the 22 accused in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Tulsiram Prajapati murder case, observing that there was not “enough evidence” to prove conspiracy.
The judge observed that the witnesses and evidences were “not satisfactory” and “substantial” to prove conspiracy and murder, reported news agency ANI.
“The government machinery and prosecution put in a lot of effort. Around 210 witnesses were brought but satisfactory evidence didn’t come and witnesses turned hostile. No fault of prosecutor if witnesses don’t speak.”Special CBI Court, as reported by ANI
92 Witnesses Turned Hostile
The case had 22 persons, most of them police officers, on trial. The prosecution examined 210 witnesses, of which 92 turned hostile.
It attracted much attention as BJP chief Amit Shah, who was Minister of State for Home in Gujarat at the time of the incidents, was one of the accused before being discharged in 2014.
The final arguments were wrapped up earlier this month.
Court Earlier Discharged 16 of 38 Persons Charge-sheeted
The court earlier discharged, for want of evidence, 16 of the 38 persons charge-sheeted by the CBI. These included Amit Shah, former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, former Gujarat police chief PC Pande and former senior Gujarat police officer DG Vanzara.
According to the CBI, Sheikh, an alleged gangster with terror links, his wife Kausar Bi and his aide Prajapati were abducted by Gujarat police from a bus when they were on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra from Hyderabad on the night of 22 and 23 November.
Shaikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter on 26 November 2005 near Ahmedabad. His wife was killed three days later and her body was disposed of, the CBI said.
A year later, on 27 December 2006, Prajapati was also shot dead by Gujarat and Rajasthan police in an alleged fake encounter near Chapri on Gujarat-Rajasthan border.
The case was initially probed by the Gujarat CID before the CBI took over in 2010. The Supreme Court in 2013 directed that the trial be shifted to Mumbai from Gujarat on the central agency's request to ensure a fair trial.
One of them, Azam Khan, an aide of Sheikh, claimed in his plea that accused Abdul Rehman, a former police inspector who had allegedly fired on Sheikh, threatened Khan that if he did not depose as told, he would be framed up in false cases.
Another witness, Mahendra Zala, a petrol pump owner, has alleged that the prosecution did not furnish to the court his statement recorded before a magistrate. The court will decide both pleas Friday.