The Bombay High Court has asked the CBI to confirm whether the four police officials who had accompanied Tulsiram Prajapati, an aide of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, to Ahmedabad just days before his death in an alleged encounter, had gone with him as his escort team on previous occasions as well.
The court's question came after Rajasthan IPS officer Dinesh M N, one of the discharged accused in the encounter case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, a gangster, his wife Kausar Bi, and their aide Prajapati, denied all charges against him.
Dinesh claimed he had no role in choosing the escort team officials who had accompanied Prajapati to Ahmedabad for a court hearing.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), soon after the court hearing in December 2006, Prajapati was killed in a fake encounter by a team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police officers.
However, the four officials, who were part of his escort team, made up a false story about Prajapati having escaped from custody while they were returning to Udaipur in a train, it said.
Inspector Narayan Singh, ASI Yudhveer Singh and constables Dalpat Singh Rathod and Kartar Singh, from the Surajpol police station in Udaipur, were part of the escort team that had accompanied Prajapati from Udaipur Central Jail to Ahmedabad for the court hearing.
Dinesh's counsel Raja Thakre told the high court that since the jail authorities had asked for an escort team on the ground that they did not have adequate number of officials, he merely directed the Surajpol police to send a team.
"The team was not chosen by me. Therefore, even if one is to presume for a minute that there was a conspiracy to kill Prajapati, I couldn't have played any role in it.
"I didn't know which police officers were going with him," Thakre said.
Justice Revati Mohite-Dere, however, remarked that some of the compilations of witness statements submitted by Rubabuddin Shaikh, the brother of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, had pointed out that the same team of the four officials had travelled with Prajapati between Gujarat and Rajasthan for court hearings on some previous occasions as well.
The judge asked the CBI to confirm this.
The high court is conducting a day-to-day hearing on pleas filed by Rubabuddin Shaikh challenging the discharge of three accused and the CBI challenging the discharge of two of the 15 accused from the case by a special court between August 2016 and September 2017.
Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat Police in November 2005, while Prajapati was killed in another alleged fake gunbattle by the Gujarat and Rajasthan Police in December 2006.
Of the 38 people charged by the CBI in the case as accused, 15, including senior IPS officers DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, Dinesh MN, and BJP President Amit Shah were discharged by the special CBI court in Mumbai between August 2016 and September 2017.