Mumbai: The special court conducting the trial in the staged encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, on Tuesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to ensure only ‘significant and relevant’ witnesses, are brought before it.
This comes a day after the Bombay High Court asked the agency to ensure adequate safety is provided to the witnesses so they can depose ‘fearlessly.’ Interestingly, the direction of the special court comes in the backdrop of nearly 31 witnesses turning hostile and retracting from their earlier statements.
The special Judge S J Sharma almost lost his cool when the CBI prosecutor sought adjournment so that other witnesses can be brought before the court. The judge said, “You cannot seek adjournments like this. You have the powers and must ensure that witnesses are brought before this court for their testimony. Else, give me the names of the senior officials in the agency, I will pass orders directing them to cooperate with the court.”
“I believe you must focus only on calling relevant and significant witnesses, especially, given the fact that most of your witnesses are from other states. They have to travel all the way to Mumbai and stay here for a day at least. To avoid such issues, you must consider bringing in only the relevant witnesses,” the court added.
Meanwhile, for a change, the two witnesses, who deposed before the court on Tuesday stuck to their earlier statements. They did not turn hostile and instead supported the prosecution’s case, which brought at least some respite for the CBI, which is facing flak because of the increasing number of hostile witnesses. One of the witnesses was a panch from Gujarat, who identified the revolver of an accused and had prepared the panchnama of the same.