A Supreme Court judge on Friday recused himself from hearing a plea seeking CBI probe into the mysterious disappearance of a prosecution witness and assaults on other witnesses in a rape case involving controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu.
Justice U U Lalit who was part of the bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur recused himself without citing any reason.
The matter was posted for further on February 26, before a bench in which Justice U U Lalit is not a member.
The plea filed by activist Bennet Castelino sought CBI probe into the mysterious disappearance of key prosecution witness Rahul Sachan since November 25 last year. Sachan was also stabbed in Jodhpur court on February 13, 2015 where he was summoned as prosecution witness in the case.
"It is a matter of concern that coincidentally important Prosecution Witnesses are being killed or assaulted in this case. It is likely that Prosecution Witnesses have personal knowledge of events that can expose a history of sexual abuse that many minor children and women have been exposed to," the plea said.
The petition further said that Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat governments were conducting parallel probes into Sachan's disappearance but till date he has not been traced.
"He was in constant touch with the Petitioner and had told the Petitioner that in case there is no contact with him, the Petitioner must immediately alert the police authorities and make an application to the Supreme Court for a probe as he feared for his life," it said.
The petition further said since November 21, 2015 there has been no contact with Sachan and UP police has been following this case. "Till date there is no success in tracing Rahul Sachan and the petitioner fears that due to its wide ramifications, delays and complexity only Respondent 5 (CBI) can probe this disappearance," it said.
The petition further said, "It is not the case of the Petitioner that the Accused are involved in the deaths and threats of Prosecution Witnesses but the Petitioner seeks that all witnesses in these cases be protected by the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) and all cases related to the deaths and threats to witnesses be investigated by the CBI and, if need be, under the monitoring of this Court."