New Delhi: The Special CBI Court on Friday acquitted all 22 accused in the alleged fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, Tulsiram Prajapati and alleged abduction and murder of Kausar Bi.
Judge S.J. Sharma pronounced the verdict in a packed courtroom with all the accused present. This was Judge Sharma’s last judgment in this tenure, as he has been transferred.
He said: “I am sorry to the families of all the deceased but the way evidence was presented before me; prosecutions’ case against the accused could not be substantiated.”
Judge Sharma also observed, “Sohrabuddin died due to bullet injuries that are also substantiated by the post-mortem report but whether these accused were authors of the said crime could not be substantiated. There is circumstantial evidence but no substantial evidence. Three main witnesses in the case turned hostile. If the government lawyer did best to prove the case of the prosecution, but if witnesses don’t talk, what can the prosecution do?”
It is to be noted that in 2011 Post-mortem report acquired through an RTI application revealed that Sohrabuddin Shaikh was shot five-times fired from a close range- one to his brain. He was shot three times on his leg and once on his upper body but probably the fatal blow was a shot to his brain that left an exit wound 1.2 cm big in the back of his head.
This Post-mortem report was released after an RTI application was filed by Afroz Alam Sahil, currently Editor at BeyondHeadlines. Though many arrests were made in connection to the murders of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi’s killings. It was the first time that post-mortem was made public which is an important document for Sohrabuddin encounter case.
The post-mortem was done by a team of five doctors of the Department of Forensic Medicine of BJ Medical College & Civil Hospital of Ahmedabad. The post-mortem that started at 4 pm on November 26, said that at the time of examination they found that “rigor mortis is present all over the body.”
Rigor mortis is the stiffness of body due to death suggesting that Sohrabuddin was killed at least 12 hours before the time his body was examined.
Post-mortem report also highlighted the fact that shots fired at his body were downwards in angle, suggesting that the victim was either lying or kneeling down when he was shot at, discounting police theory that he was trying to escape.
The verdict was reserved in this case on December 5 after advocates for all 22 remaining accused finished arguments. A total of 16 out of 38 accused were discharged from the case. Out of the 210 witnesses who were examined, 92 turned hostile.
The case was first heard by Judge JT Utpat, then Judge BH Loya, after his death MB Gosavi, and now SJ Sharma.
Sohrabuddin was killed in Ahmedabad on November 26, 2005, in a joint Gujarat-Rajasthan police operation. Police at that time claimed that Sohrabuddin was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative and killed while trying to escape.
Sohrabuddin Shaikh, along with his wife Kausar Bi, was allegedly kidnapped by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Gujarat police on November 23, 2005. Shaikh was coming to Gujarat from Hyderabad on a public bus. He was killed early morning on November 26 on a highway in Ahmedabad. In 2007, Gujarat government finally admitted that Kausar Bi was also killed and her body was disposed off.