All 22 accused acquitted in fake encounter of gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh

Updated: Dec 22, 2018, 12:50 IST | Agencies | Mumbai

The judge cited "lack of enough evidence" as the reason behind the acquittal

Accused Rajendra Jeerawala, who according to the CBI, had facilitated the illegal detention of the deceased, was among the acquitted
Accused Rajendra Jeerawala, who according to the CBI, had facilitated the illegal detention of the deceased, was among the acquitted

All 22 accused in the alleged fake encounter killings of gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and his aide Tulsi Prajapati were acquitted Friday by a special CBI court because of insufficient evidence, even as it expressed sorrow over the loss of "three lives."

Special CBI Judge S J Sharma said in his ruling the system demands that the court go solely by evidence, and observed that the prosecution had failed to establish a cogent case to suggest that there was any conspiracy to kill the three people, or that the accused persons had any role in it.

"When this court ultimately went through all the evidence and testimonies on record, it concluded that no case of conspiracy could be established. Also, no link between these 22 persons and the three deaths could be established," he said

All the accused, mostly police officials from Gujarat and Rajasthan, were out on bail during the year-long trial. The 13-year-old case saw several twists and turns, including 92 witnesses turning hostile. At one point, BJP president Amit Shah was also arrested briefly in 2010 in the case.

Sharma said that while there was no denying that Shaikh and the others were killed, "going by the evidence on record, the court could not conclude that the present accused persons could be questioned, or, held accountable for those deaths." The court cannot rely solely on "circumstantial and hearsay evidence", he said.

Case timeline
November 22, 2005: Sohrabuddin, Kausar Bi and Prajapati are intercepted by a police team in a bus while returning to Sangli from Hyderabad and are taken into custody.
Nov-DEC, 2005: Shaikh, Kausar Bi and Prajapati killed in 'encounter'.
January 2010: Supreme Court hands over the probe to CBI.
July 23, 2010: CBI files chargesheet against 38 persons including Amit Shah.
September 27, 2012: Supreme Court transfers trial to Mumbai.
November 2017: 210 witnesses examined, of which 92 turn hostile.
December 21, 2018: Court acquits all accused

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