In a breather for Amit Shah, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea by social activist and former bureaucrat Harsh Mander challenging the BJP President's discharge in the alleged staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his aide Tusliram Prajapati.
Sohrabuddin was killed by Gujarat Police on November 26, 2005, in an allegedly staged shootout. Two days later, on November 28, his wife Kausar Bi was killed. His aide Tulsiram Prajapati was murdered December 28, 2006. Shah was Gujarat's Minister of State for Home when the killings took place.
A bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan rejected the plea by Mander, who had challenged the Bombay High Court order rejecting his plea against the discharge of Amit Shah on the grounds of his locus standi to do so.
"Where a person genuinely aggrieved moves the court, it takes a different colour, and when another person who is not even remotely connected (moves the court)," it takes a different dimension, said the bench.
Saying that it could not keep the question of locus that open that anybody could intervene in the matters, even when directly aggrieved parties are not coming forward, the bench said: "This man's brother withdraws, and you are coming up."
The court was referring to Rubabuddin Sheikh - brother of Sohrabuddin Sheikh withdrawing his petition before Bombay High Court challenging the discharge of Amit Shah in the case.
However, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mander, said: "Court can't close its eyes to everything."
He cited several judgments including one by the constitution bench as he argued that under law, a person not remotely aggrieved by the crime too can knock the door of the court to seek justice in a criminal case in larger interest of society.
Opposing Mander's plea, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Amit Shah, cited another set of judgments to contend that an unconnected third party had no locus to knock the doors of the appellate courts in a criminal matter.
"There is a difference between corruption and murder case" and both can't be compared, Justice Bobde said as Sibal told the court that often the top court had entertained pleas by third parties raising the issue of corruption.
Telling the court that public must not get the feeling that somebody is above the law, Sibal said that things have happened which can't be brought on record.
As the court said that nobody was above law and God knows what had happened, Sibal said: "We mortal human beings know the way God's ways work."
His remark came as he noted the complete U-turn by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which had investigated the case and chose not to appeal against the Amit Shah's discharge and Sohrabuddin Sheikh's brother first challenging the discharge and then withdrawing his case.
The trial in Sohrabuddin Sheikh case was shifted to Mumbai by the top court on September 27, 2012, and later the same special CBI court was asked to hold trial in the staged shoot-out of Prajapati.
Discharging Amit Shah in the two cases of alleged stage-shoot out on December 30, 2014, holding that there was no evidence, the special CBI court judge had said: "I found substance in the main contention made by the applicant that he was involved in the case by the CBI for political reasons."
Amit Shah was granted bail in Sohrabuddin Sheikh case by the Gujarat High Court on October 29, 2010 and the very next day, the CBI moved the apex court seeking the cancellation of bail. The top court while declining to cancel bail directed Shah to stay away from Gujarat.