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Supreme Court relief for Rajasthan BJP leader over killing

Posted on Oct 31, 09:52PM | IANS

The Supreme Court Wednesday stayed a Rajasthan High Court order asking BJP chief whip in the assembly Rajendra Rathore to surrender in trial court to face proceedings in alleged criminal Dara Singh's staged shootout killing.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice S.S. Njjar and Justice J. Chelameswar put on hold the operation of the high court order till Nov 27, when it was told that mere suspicion could not be the basis for sustaining conspiracy charge.

Dara Singh, allegedly engaged in liquor smuggling, was shot dead near Amber Oct 23, 2006.

Rathore, who was the parliamentary affairs minister at the time of the incident, was arrested April 5 for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy behind the staged shootout.

Appearing for Rathore, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani mentioned before the court that there was no "evidence at all of any conspiracy" that his client might have entered with Rajasthan Police for killing Dara Singh.

The senior counsel said that the correct position of law was that the charges could only be framed on the basis of evidence which, if not rebutted by an accused, would result in his conviction.

"It is well known that grave suspicion can never result in conviction," Jethmalani told the court.

Assailing the high court judgment of Oct 26, Jethmalani told the apex court that the high court's "finding of a strong motive of elimination of Dara Singh is based on no evidence and is plainly perverse".

Giving a political colour to his submissions, Jethmalani contended that Rathore was being targeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) because "he had the misfortune of being in the BJP".

Referring to the evidence which the CBI presented, Jethmalani said telephonic conversation that Rathore had with police officers Oct 4, Oct 5, Oct 16 and Oct 19 in 2006 could not possibly have anything to do with the alleged conspiracy to kill Dara Singh.

"It is most ridiculous to suggest that the calls of Oct 4, 5, 16 and 19 had anything to do with the killing of the man," he said.

The high court could not have reversed concurrent findings of a magistrate and a sessions court on facts of the case which were in conformity with the opinion given by Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati holding that there was no case against Rathore.

Appearing for the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval sought to contest Jethmalani's submissions saying that this was not the case where trial court said that "there is no evidence".