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Gujarat HC acquits ex-BJP MP, 6 others in RTI activist Amit Jethwa murder case

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AHMEDABAD, May 6: The Gujarat High Court on Monday allowed the appeals of former BJP MP Dinu Solanki and six others against their conviction by a CBI court in the case of RTI activist Amit Jethwa’s murder in 2010.

Observing that the trial court conducted proceedings with a “predetermined notion of conviction,” a division bench of Justices AS Supehia and Vimal K Vyas quashed the CBI court’s order sentencing Solanki and the six others to life imprisonment.

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Jethwa was shot dead outside the high court premises here on July 20, 2010.

Solanki and six others were sentenced to life imprisonment by the CBI court in 2019 and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 15 lakh in the case of murder and criminal conspiracy.

The high court had later suspended the life sentences of Dinu Solanki and his nephew Shiva Solanki, who was also convicted in the case.

“We reiterate that the entire investigation right from the inception of the offence appears to be perfunctory and prejudiced. The prosecution has failed to secure the confidence of the witnesses,” the HC bench said in its order.

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The trial court on a “preconceived notion of conviction has analysed the evidence divorced from statutes and legal precedence,” it said.

The HC said the trial court was duty-bound to apply the law as written, “not as per its instinct”.

“Resultantly the common judgment on order of conviction dated July 11, 2019 passed by the special judge, CBI court…whereby the accused have been convicted for the offence under section 302 (murder) and section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and are sentenced is quashed and set aside,” the HC order said.

The high court further observed that the survival of democracy and the unity and integrity of the nation depends upon the realisation that “constitutional morality is no less essential than constitutional legality.”

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Jethwa was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court on July 20, 2010 after he tried to expose illegal mining activities allegedly involving Dinu Solanki by seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

An FIR was then lodged against two unidentified assailants and the investigation was transferred to the state police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which later filed a chargesheet.

In September 2012, the high court handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The CBI arrested Dinu Solanki in November 2013.

On July 11, 2019, Dinu Solanki and his nephew were convicted in the case of Jethwa’s murder.

The high court in September 2021 suspended Dinu Solanki’s sentence pending his appeal against conviction by the CBI court.

Last year, the HC also suspended the life sentence of his nephew Shiva Solanki and granted him bail pending hearing of his appeal against his conviction by the CBI court. (PTI)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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