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The Special CBI Court in Mumbai will pronounce its verdict in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case on December 21.

The judgement is eagerly looked forward to as the incident happened at a time when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat and the among the prime accused in the case was BJP national president Amit Shah. It relates to the alleged fake encounter deaths of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati. At present, 22 accused, mostly police personnel from Gujarat and Rajasthan, are facing trial in the case.

According to agency reports, Judge S J Sharma said Friday that he will pronounce the verdict on December 21. Of the 38 people charged by the CBI for the alleged fake encounters, 16, including BJP chief Amit Shah (who was minister of state for home in Gujarat then) and all senior police officials have been discharged in the case.

Earlier, while recording their statement under Section 313 of the CrPC, most of the accused had claimed innocence and had said they had been falsely implicated by the investigating agency.

Under Section 313, after examination of witnesses, a final chance is given to an accused to record his statement. “The charge sheet against me was prepared (by the CBI) based on false witnesses. I’m innocent. I have not participated in any police encounter,” Abdul Rehman, an accused, had earlier told court. According to the CBI, Abdul Rehman, then inspector with the Rajasthan Police was part of the encounter team and had fired at Shaikh. Rehman had also denied the CBI’s claim that he had filed the FIR in Sohrabuddin Shaikh case. Ashish Pandya, who is accused of pulling the trigger on Prajapati, had told court that he fired in self-defence and was discharging his duty. “The encounter was genuine. I fired at Prajapati in self defence,” Pandya said, adding that he was discharging his official duty. Pandya, who was then sub-inspector with the Gujarat Police, was part of the Special Task Force (STF) to eliminate Prajapati at Chapri village of Ambaji town in Banaskantha district.

Shaikh, a suspected gangster, and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2005 by the Gujarat Police. His aide Prajapati was killed in another alleged fake encounter in 2006 by Gujarat and the Rajasthan Police.

The case was initially probed by the CID, Gujarat, before being transferred to the CBI in 2010.

—India Legal Bureau

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