Due to lack of evidence, a special CBI court on Tuesday discharged retired IPS officer and former Gujarat ATS chief DG Vanzara and Rajasthan-cadre IPS officer Dinesh MN in the case related to the death of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who was allegedly killed in a fake encounter. Vanzara was also discharged in the deaths of Sheikh’s wife, Kausar Bi, and associate, Tulsiram Prajapati.
The court held that there was “no prima facie material” to connect Vanzara and Dinesh to the offence, and the CBI had not obtained sanction to prosecute them. With this, 15 of the 38 accused have either been dropped or discharged from the case.
The CBI had submitted that since the men had exceeded their official call of duty, there was no need to obtain sanction to prosecute them. The CBI had alleged that Sheikh was killed in a staged encounter by a team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police.
On Vanzara, the court said there was nothing to connect him to the abduction and the subsequent killings. “In fact, even the prosecution has not whispered (on) the presence of this accused at the spot, on the date and time of abduction, followed by the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Tulsiram Prajapati and Kausar Bi,” the court observed.
It further said that the CBI has relied on statements of witnesses, which are “hearsay” in nature, who have stated facts learnt from other co-accused or somewhere else.
It is seen from the entire record of the case that there is no sufficient evidence on facts to indicate that there was meeting of minds between accused and the other accused to abduct and kill. Even statements of witness, do not in any way directly implicate the accused in the fake encounters, the court observed.
It said the role attributed to the accused comes within the sphere of discharge of his official duty. Prior sanction to prosecute this accused was required as contemplated under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the court said. It also said that “mere conversation” between Vanzara and other police officials is not sufficient to charge him with killing Prajapati.
On Dinesh’s role, the court said, Considering the quality of material on record against Dinesh and taking into consideration entire prosecution story, it is clear that there is no prima facie material against this applicant to connect him to the killing of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram.