24, Jan 2018 | Teesta Setalvad
The Bombay High Court has quashed the November 2017 order of the CBI Sessions Court preventing journalists from day to day coverage of the controversial Sohrabuddin case. In an order dictated between Jan 23 and 24, 2018, Justice Revati Dere of the Bombay High Court has quashed and set aside the order of the CBI Court. This means that the media can cover the trial. The only rider is that in case the prosecution (which is the CBI) feels that a particular witness faces threats, an application to protect that witness can be moved to record the limited evidence in camera, of that witness.
In December, 2017, the BUJ and 9 journalists who cover courts had moved Bombay High Court filing two different petitions seeking a quashing of the controversial ban order on reporting passed by the Sessions Court on November 29, 2017. On January 19, the Bombay High Court yesterday clubbed two separate legal actions challenging the gag order on press reportage passed by the CBI Court in the Sohrabuddin case on November 29, 2017. The trial in the alleged fake encounter of one Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati of Sohrabuddin Sheikh is being conducted in Court of Sessions For Greater Bombay.
Much controversy has surrounded this case in recent months, especially concerning the death in allegedly mysterious circumstances of Judge Brijgopal Harkishen Loya hearing the case. BJP President and former minister of home, Gujarat, Amit Shah was an accused in the case until he was discharged within months of the Modi government coming to power on December 30, 2014. A total of fifteen of the original 38 accused, charge- sheeted by the CBI –including controversial senior cop DG Vanzara and others have been discharged from this case. These let-offs all followed the coming to power of the Modi regime at the centre and the infusion of Gujarat cops into the CBI.
The quashing of the CBI Court’s gag order means that blanket censorship of coverage of the trial has been overturned. Liberty has been given to the prosecution to move an application for non disclosure of the name of a particular witness for the prosecution if the witness faced any threats.
The final hearing in the matter concerning the gag order on the media took place on January 23. Senior advocate Mihir Desaiassisted by advocate Chetan Mali appeared for the Bombay Union of Journalists (BUJ) and A. Ponda for a group of journalists.
*** Feature Image by Amir Rizvi