New Delhi: The Supreme Court today rejected a plea against the discharge of BJP president Amit Shah in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, questioning the locus standi of petitioner Harsh Mander, a social activist, in the matter.
Mander, a former bureaucrat, had filled a plea in the apex court challenging the Bombay high court order that had upheld the discharge of Shah by a trial court.
After a nearly half-hour hearing, the bench, comprising justices S.A. Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, said, “When the person is genuinely aggrieved then the issue takes a different colour but when the person is not remotely connected and wants to revive the case then it is a different matter,”giving relief to Shah.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Mander, said, “Public must get the feeling that nobody is above the law”.
“The CBI has filed the charge sheet but I am unable to understand why did they turn turtle. Even his (Sohrabuddin) brother who filed the case against Shah withdrew his case later,” Sibal added. He said that it is a high profile case that was transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra, saying that justice to the people of India should be done.
At the outset, the bench questioned the locus standi of Mander in the case. Sibal cited some earlier judgments of the apex court and said any member of society can have a locus in the case. He said that the high court should not have dismissed Mander’s application and could have taken suo moto cognisance of the issue and that, “the CBI has filed a charge sheet and had made Shah accused number 16. It is a case of murder”.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Shah, cited various judgments of the apex court and questioned the locus of Mander in the case by saying that the court has already held that if someone is not connected to the case, he cannot interfere with anyone’s trial unless the third party involved is an aggrieved party. Furthermore, Salve said, “It cannot be a case that if state is not going to file an appeal, I will file the appeal.”
In the petition, Mander had sought the quashing of the December 30, 2014 order of a Mumbai sessions court, which gave Shah a clean chit in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. The petitioner had questioned the findings of sessions court, which was endorsed by the high court, exonerating Shah in the Tulsiram Prajapati killing case, holding that there existed ‘no case’ against him and that he had been implicated for ‘political reasons’.
Mander had approached the Bombay high court against the sessions court order. The high court had dismissed the plea in March this year. Sohrabuddin, a gangster was killed by the Gujarat police along with his wife Kausar Bi in 2005, when Shah was the home minister of Gujarat. Tulsiram, an aide of the gangster and an eyewitness to the encounter, was also allegedly killed by the police in 2006.