Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Tarun Barot, a key accused in the 2003 "fake" encounter of Sadiq Jamal Mehtar in Gujarat, was today remanded in two-day CBI custody by a Special Court here.
Barot, posted in North Gujarat's Mehsana district, was arrested yesterday by the Central agency after it was asked by the Gujarat High Court to probe the killing of Sadiq,an alleged gangster, by the state police.
Barot, charged with murder and criminal conspiracy, was produced before Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate A Y Dave, presiding over the Special CBI Court, where S K
Rathi, the Investigating Officer, sought his custody for five days but he was given time till September 28 to question him.
"The accused, who was protector of the law, has been charged with serious crimes and CBI is justified in requesting for custodial interrogation to unearth his modus operandi and links with other accused," observed the court.
Directing the CBI to produce Barot in the court by 3 pm on September 28, the Magistrate accepted the CBI's argument that killing of Sadiq was a "deep-rooted conspiracy" and it had inter-state ramifications.
"As he has been accused of crimes under Section 120b (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code, his custodial interrogation is justified," the court noted.
CBI, in its application said, "custodial examination of the accused is extremely necessary to unearth the deep rooted conspiracy relating to fake encounter of Sadiq
"The crime is peculiar in nature and has inter-state ramifications. Hence, it is necessary to detain the accused for five days," it further said.
Barot is the second person to be arrested in the case after former Mumbai scribe Ketan
Tirodakar. Sadiq was killed on January 13, 2003 near here in a joint operation of Anti- Terrorist Squad
(ATS) and Crime Branch Ahmedabad.
According to Tirodakar, a Gujarat Police team, of which Barot was a part, had taken custody of Sadiq in
Mumbai. After the encounter, police claimed Sadiq had planned to kill BJP leader L K
Advani, Chief Minister Narendra Modi and VHP leader Pravin Togadia.
Opposing the remand application, Barot's counsel Rohit Verma argued before the court that the plea should be rejected on the ground that the premier investigating agency threatened the DySP to "turn an approver" or become a "martyr".
Testifying this, Barot said "CBI asked me to become either an "approver" or a 'martyr' in the case."
On a petition filed by Sadiq's brother, the High Court had in June 2011 ordered a CBI probe into the killing, which involved high-rank officers, including suspended IPS officer D G
Vanzara, a key accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
The petition had alleged Sadiq's encounter was stage- managed and part of a conspiracy hatched by Gujarat Police.
Claiming that the DySP was not in anyway involved in the encounter, Verma submitted, "They summoned Barot on October 4, 2011 and April 23, 2012. On both occasions, he told the Central investigation agency that he had nothing to do with the case and had been falsely implicated."
The defence counsel said Barot met CBI Director A K Singh on May 15, 2012 and CBI Special Director Salim Ali the following day and complained to them that the Investigating Officer was trying to falsely implicate him in the Sadiq case.
Terming the probe carried out by CBI as "absurd" and "a comedy of errors", Verma said the agency first arrested a material witness in the case,
Tirodkar, and later made him an accused. Now they have arrested someone who has nothing to do with this episode.