Days after reports emerged raising suspicion on the death of of the former CBI judge Brijgopal Loya, the special CBI court in Mumbai has issued a media gag on the ongoing trial in the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati.
Special judge Sunilkumar J Sharma, said, “It may happen that publication (of reports) may create security problem for the accused persons, prosecution witnesses, defence team and the prosecution as well. I, therefore, find justification in the request of the defence team of lawyers.”
Raising security issues, the defence lawyers also referred to media reports on the death of a judge Loya whowas hearing the case when he died in mysterious circumstances. The lawyers said that “misreporting has already caused prejudice to both sides”. They said it was a “sensational” case and some untoward incident could happen if publication of reports was allowed, reported news agency PTI.
The judge said that considering the sensitivity of the matter, there was a likelihood of some untoward incident happening which may affect the trial.
The trial was scheduled to start on Wednesday but the defence lawyers moved an application in the morning seeking a ban on the publication of reports of the court proceedings till the judgement is delivered.
As expected, the journalists objected to the defence lawyers demand, saying that they were reporting on proceedings in good faith so that the public at large knows about the progress of the case. They argued that media persons too have faced attacks in discharge of duty in the past.
The defence lawyers then referred to the Caravan story saying that a “natural death” of an earlier judge who had dealt with the case was portrayed as a murder.
The court, last month, had framed charges against 22 accused for murder, abduction and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code and for offences under the Arms Act.
BJP president Amit Shah, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, former Gujarat police chief P C Pande, Additional Director General of Police Geeta Johri are among those who have been discharged in the case.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat polices Anti-Terrorism Squad on their way from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra in November 2005. Sheikh was allegedly killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar. His wife disappeared. She too was believed to have been done to death.
Prajapati, an aide of Sheikhs and eyewitness to the encounter, was allegedly killed by police at Chapri village in Gujarats Banaskantha district in December 2006. The fake encounter case was transferred to Mumbai in September 2012 on the request of the CBI which said it was necessary to ensure a fair trial.