Topic Of The Day: -Failure Of Justice: On Sohrabuddin Case Verdict

The Acquittal Of All Those Accused In The Sohrabuddin Case Raises Disturbing Questions

The omnibus acquittal of all the police personnel accused of eliminating Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a ‘fake encounter’ in Gujarat in 2005 represents a substantial failure of justice. It is true that it is not easy to obtain an order of conviction against police personnel accused of killing suspects in a fake encounter. It becomes that much harder for any agency when influential political leaders and top police officers are cited as accused. It is unsurprising that the case, in which BJP president Amit Shah and a few Indian Police Service officers had been discharged earlier, ended with the acquittal of 22 men, all but one of them policemen. As many as 92 of the 210 witnesses turned hostile. The trial judge himself appeared to be saddened by the outcome, but it is difficult to agree with his observation that one could not fault the CBI for witnesses going back on their statements. It is the prosecution’s duty to ensure the safety of witnesses and give them the confidence and courage to speak the truth under oath. While it is perhaps not surprising that witnesses in the police did not support the prosecution, it is disappointing that others could not be encouraged to do so. For instance, the driver and a passenger in a bus, allegedly intercepted by the police team and from which Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi and an associate, Tulsiram Prajapati, were taken away, denied such an incident took place.It is unfortunate that the families of the victims do not have the consolation of anyone being brought to justice. While Sohrabuddin’s killing has ‘encounter’ as an explanation, his wife’s disappearance remains a mystery. It was not proved that she was taken to a farm, killed and her body burnt. And it cannot be a coincidence that Prajapati was killed a year later in Rajasthan in another encounter. It was under a cloud of suspicion over the circumstances of their death that Sohrabuddin’s brother had approached the Supreme Court and obtained an order for an investigation, which was subsequently handed over to the CBI. In losing this case, the CBI has shown that it continues to struggle when it comes to handling cases with political overtones. The 2014 discharge of Mr. Shah and the subsequent pre-trial exoneration of senior police officer D.G. Vanzara had come as a boost to the BJP. The final decision in the trial is also likely to beinterpreted as a justification for some encounters that took place in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister. Mr. Vanzara has implied as much in controversial tweets. He has alsoclaimed that such ‘pre-emptive encounters’ were needed to save Mr. Modi. This is a tacitacknowledgement that these may not have been chance encounters, as genuine ones are supposed to be, but part of a plan to eliminate a threat to the leader’s life through extrajudicial killings. It isregrettable that such a triumphalist narrative is sought to be built around such incidents.


1) acquittal

Meaning : a judgement or verdict that a person is not guilty of the crime with which they have been charged(n).

Synonyms : absolution

Antonyms : employment

Example : “the trial resulted in an acquittal”

2) accused

Meaning : a person or group of people who are charged with or on trial for a crime.

Synonyms : implicated

Antonyms : acquitted

Example : “the accused was ordered to stand trial on a number of charges”

3) substantial

Meaning : of considerable importance, size, or worth.

Synonyms : extraordinary

Antonyms : broken

Example : “a substantial amount of cash”

4) conviction

Meaning : a formal declaration by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law that someone is guilty of a criminal offence(n).

Synonyms : confidence

Antonyms : distrust

Example : “she had a previous conviction for a similar offence”

5) cited

Meaning : refer to (a passage, book, or author) as evidence for or justification of an argument or statement, especially in a scholarly work.(v)

Synonyms : allege

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “authors who are highly regarded by their peers tend to be cited”

6) saddened

Meaning : cause to feel sorrow; make unhappy.(v)

Synonyms : dispirit

Antonyms : encourage

Example : “he was greatly saddened by the death of his only son”

7) allegedly

Meaning : used to convey that something is claimed to be the case or have taken place, although there is no proof.(adv)

Synonyms : purportedly

Example : “he was allegedly a leading participant in the coup attempt”

8) intercepted

Meaning : obstruct (someone or something) so as to prevent them from continuing to a destination.(v)

Synonyms : arrest

Antonyms : allow

Example : “intelligence agencies intercepted a series of telephone calls”

9) prosecution

Meaning : the continuation of a course of action with a view to its completion(n).

Synonyms : pursuit

Antonyms : defeat

Example : “the BBC’s prosecution of its commercial ends”

10) denied

Meaning : state that one refuses to admit the truth or existence of.(v)

Synonyms : contradict

Antonyms : allow

Example : “both firms deny any responsibility for the tragedy”

11) victims

Meaning : a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

Synonyms : casualty

Antonyms : criminal

Example : “victims of domestic violence”

12) consolation

Meaning : the comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment.(n)

Synonyms : comfort

Antonyms :disdain

Example : “there was consolation in knowing that others were worse off”

13) suspicion

Meaning : a feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

Synonyms : conjecture

Antonyms : belief

Example : “she had a sneaking suspicion that he was laughing at her”

14) subsequently

Meaning : after a particular thing has happened; afterwards(adv).

Tamil Meaning : பின்னர்

Synonyms : finally

Antonyms : former

Example : “the officer decided to stop and subsequently made an arrest”

15) exoneration

Meaning : the action of officially absolving someone from blame; vindication.(n)

Synonyms : absolution

Example : “the defendants’ eventual exoneration”

16) interpreted

Meaning : explain the meaning of (information or actions).(v)

Synonyms : explained

Antonyms : encode

Example : “the evidence is difficult to interpret”

17) implied

Meaning : suggested but not directly expressed; implicit.(adj)

Synonyms : hidden

Antonyms : explicit

Example : “she was aware of his implied criticism”

18) controversial

Meaning : giving rise or likely to give rise to controversy or public disagreement.

Synonyms : contentious

Antonyms : certain

Example : “years of wrangling over a controversial bypass”

19) claimed

Meaning : state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

Synonyms : assert

Antonyms : abandon

Example : “the Prime Minister claimed that he was concerned about Third World debt”

20) Pre-emptive

Meaning : serving or intended to pre-empt or forestall something, especially to prevent attack by disabling the enemy.

Synonyms : preventive

Antonyms : permissive

Example : “a pre-emptive strike”

21) tacit

Meaning : understood or implied without being stated.(adj)

Synonyms : implicit

Antonyms : stated

Example : “your silence may be taken to mean tacit agreement”

22) sought

Meaning : attempt to find (something).

Synonyms : desired

Example : “they came here to seek shelter from biting winter winds”

23) recovery

Meaning : a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

Synonyms : improvement

Antonyms : deterioration

Example : “signs of recovery in the housing market

24) starved

Meaning : suffer or die or cause to suffer or die from hunger.

Synonyms : anorexic

Antonyms : full

Example : “she left her animals to starve”

25) tranche

Meaning : a portion of something, especially money.

Synonyms : share

Antonyms : emit

Example : “they released the first tranche of the loan”

26) stimulate

Meaning : raise levels of physiological or nervous activity in (the body or any biological system).(v)

Synonyms : inspire

Antonyms : block

Example : “the women are given fertility drugs to stimulate their ovaries”

27) restrictive

Meaning : imposing restrictions on someone’s activities or freedom.(adj)

Synonyms : confining

Example : “a web of restrictive regulations”

28) semblance

Meaning : the outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different.(n)

Synonyms : pretense

Antonyms : reality

Example : “she tried to force her thoughts back into some semblance of order”

29) hump

Meaning : a rounded raised mass of earth or land.(n)

Synonyms : bulge

Antonyms : depression

Example : “they sat on a hump of cropped grass”

30) allocations

Meaning : the action or process of allocating or sharing out something(n).

Synonyms : allotment

Antonyms : whole

Example : “more efficient allocation of resources”

31) triumph

Meaning : a great victory or achievement.(n)

Synonyms : pride

Antonyms : failure

Example : “a garden built to celebrate Napoleon’s many triumphs”