New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed the central government’s plea for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the 2005 staged killing of Ujjain resident Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi by the Gujarat police.
A bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee and P.K. Balasubramanian turned down the plea, ruling that the ongoing investigation by the Gujarat state police appeared to be “on the right track”.
The bench said that investigations would be wholly supervised by Inspector General of Police Geeta Johri and Gujarat police will not interfere with the probe.
“The investigating officer shall submit report on the investigation to this court only,” said the bench in its 13-page order.
“There is no necessity for the investigating agency to take permission from the Director General of Police, Gujarat, in the matter of investigation nor the DGP shall interfere with such investigation to be conducted by the investigating agency,” it added.
The plea was moved by the central government as well as by Rubabuddin Sheikh, brother of the slain man Sohrabbudin Sheikh. Rubabuddin had earlier approached the court with a habeas corpus petition, demanding from the court the whereabouts of his brother’s wife, Kausar Bi, who was allegedly killed a few days after her husband was shot dead in November 2005.
In its interim order on the Rubabuddin plea for a CBI probe, the bench said, “…. it is difficult for us to come to a conclusion at this stage that the investigations are not proceeding towards correct direction.”
Taking note of Gujarat Government’s counsel K T S Tulsi’s submission that the final report will be submitted in another four to six weeks, the bench said, “We are of the view that at this stage we do not find any reason to hand over the investigation to the CBI from the State of Gujarat, nor we feel it appropriate to direct the State of Gujarat at this stage to include (Rajnish) Raigar with Johri for completing the investigation.”
The Gujarat government was asked to submit its final report on July 3 to the court which posted the matter for next hearing to July 16
On Nov 26, 2005, Gujarat police Deputy Inspector General D.G. Vanzara had announced that Sheikh was killed in a police shootout and dubbed him a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist in a bid to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
On May 3 this year, the Gujarat government told the apex court that Kausar Bi too had been killed by the police on Nov 28, 2005. The couple’s associate Tulsiram Prajapati too had been shot dead by the police a month later or so.
The bench had Tuesday reserved its order on the pleas for the CBI probe after an hour-long argument by the contesting sides during which Tulsi had sought to assure the court that the state police was conducting a “free and fair” investigation.
Attorney General Milan K. Banerjee, however, insisted on a CBI probe into the matter saying that it was an inter-state crime, involving police of three different states – Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan – and the state police will not be able to carry out the probe efficiently.
Geeta Johri’s preliminary enquiry into the matter had led to the arrest of Vanzara and two other senior Indian Police Service officers. The Gujarat police till now has arrested seven police officers, one of whom has confessed to the killings before a magistrate.