SC fries CBI for Gujarat innuendo

via http://www.telegraphindia.com//1111130/jsp/nation/story_14817820.jsp published on November 30, 2011

New Delhi, Nov. 29: The Supreme Court today dubbed “complete nonsense” a CBI claim that Gujarat’s lower judiciary was biased.

The agency then withdrew the allegations made while seeking the transfer of the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, in which former minister Amit Shah is an accused, out of the state.

“To say that the lower judiciary is toeing one particular line because of some political design is complete nonsense,” said Justice Aftab Alam, part of a two-judge bench with Justice Ranjana Desai. He asked the CBI to explain the “shocking” allegations.

Additional advocate-general Tushar Mehta, who represented Gujarat, accused the CBI of making “vague” and “bald” assertions about threats to witnesses.

He also trashed the CBI claim that it had “reliably” learnt that some “kith and kin” of the accused were in the state’s lower judiciary as lawyers, judges and public prosecutors. “We have factually examined each of them and found them to be untrue,” Mehta said.

He said the charges were “contemptuous” and urged the apex court to slap contempt notices on the CBI officials making such insinuations against the lower judiciary.

The judges demanded to know if the CBI would take back the allegations. The agency, represented by additional solicitor-general Vivek Tankha, immediately agreed.

Shah, a former minister of state for home in the Narendra Modi government, faces charges of conspiring to eliminate small-time criminal Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi. The CBI made Shah a key accused in the case along with 14 Gujarat policemen.

Earlier, the CBI had argued that it wanted the trial to be held outside Gujarat in the interest of fairness. The agency argued that Shah was an influential man in the state and could make witnesses turn hostile.

It said the surcharged communal atmosphere in Gujarat was prejudicial to fair trial and justice.

The CBI took up the Sohrabuddin case in January 2010 on the directive of the apex court after Gujarat police had first dubbed the victim a “terrorist”.

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