By LE Desk

Ahmedabad, June 11, 2021: A prosecution witness in the high-profile 2010 murder case of RTI activist Amit Jethwa has moved the Gujarat High Court with a plea seeking transfer of investigation of his son’s kidnapping in 2018, from Una police to the CBI.

The witness’s son was kidnapped while the witness was deposing before a trial court in Ahmedabad. The HC on Thursday issued notice to the central and state government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Diu’s collector and other officials of Gujarat in this regard, The Indian Express reported.

A special CBI court in Ahmedabad in July 2019 had sentenced former BJP MP Dinu Solanki, his nephew Shiva Solanki and five others to life imprisonment in connection with Jethwa’s murder. Jethwa was shot dead by two of the convicted accused opposite the Gujarat High Court premises.

Dharmendragiri Balugiri Goswami, a key witness in the case and a resident of Una, was among the 26 witnesses who were re-examined by a special CBI court in Ahmedabad during the trial of Jethwa’s murder. In 2018, Goswami’s son was kidnapped while Goswami was deposing in court, forcing the latter to turn hostile.

As stated in the petition, ““During the deposition as a prosecution witness, son of (Goswami) was kidnapped as part of threat, coercion and duress and to set an example as to what would happen if e deposes as per the statement given by him to the police. During the deposition in the court premises outside the courtroom, (Goswami) was threatened by particular individuals at the instance of accused Dinu Solanki and his nephew Pratap alias Shiva Solanki…The son was released after few hours…”

This incident was also noted in the final verdict of the special CBI court pronounced in July 2019, with the latter directing that investigating officers in the case — Mukesh Sharma and Satishkumar Chaudhary — should carry out a “joint inquiry and submit a report to this court within six to eight weeks and also in their respective departments and if the offence is found to have committed then, arrangements should be made to take further action in accordance with law.”

A joint inquiry was conducted by the CBI and the Gujarat police and the report had concluded that “prima facie it is established that Dinu Solanki, Shiva Solanki…” and others had committed offences punishable for criminal conspiracy, threatening another person, kidnapping and abduction, reported The Indian Express.

However, subsequent to the joint report, no FIR was registered by the CBI but additional director general of police of state CID crime had directed Una police station to lodge an FIR and the same was registered in March 2020.

The final chargesheet, filed in September 2020, however, only named one accused — Usman Kazi — who had physically kidnapped Goswami’s son, and not the rest as was determined in the joint inquiry report.

The petitioner has also submitted in his petition that the ongoing investigation by the Una police station “is a farce and extremely unfair and non-transparent..” and has also highlighted that Una police station, along with Diu police station are bringing “all extraneous and extralegal and other pressures including threat, coercion, duress and destruction of the business of (Goswami) if Goswami does not agree for consent quashing of the FIR.”

Goswami, who also has business at Diu, has alleged pressure from the Diu local administration to quash the FIR pertaining to his son’s kidnapping as well.

The petitioners, which includes Goswami and Jethwa’s father, Bhikhabhai Jethwa, represented by advocates Anand Yagnik and Bhavyaraj Gohil, have sought that Gujarat HC may direct a transfer of the investigation either to CBI or alternatively, to transfer the Una police station FIR investigation to an IPS officer of the rank of IG of Gujarat cadre.

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