The Gujarat High Court has suspended the life sentence of Shiva Solanki, an accused in the 2010 murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa, and granted him bail pending a hearing of his appeal against his conviction by a CBI court.
On Monday, a division bench of Justices S H Vora and Mauna Bhatt suspended the sentence of Shiva Solanki, the nephew of former BJP MP Dinu Solanki, who was one of seven people sentenced to life in prison for gunning down Amit Jethwa outside the High Court on July 20, 2010.
The court ordered Shiva Solanki to be released on bail on condition that he does not leave Gujarat pending the hearing of the appeal, surrender his passport, mark his presence in the police station every month and attend the hearing of his appeal in the court.
The court in its order observed that prima facie, Shiva Solanki’s conviction by the CBI court is “erroneous because there is a breach of all principles settled by the Hon’ble Apex Court with regard to the circumstantial evidence and requirement for conviction”.
“When circumstances against the applicant are taken cumulatively, we do not find any chain of evidence having been established leading to the conclusion that in all possibility, the crime was committed by the applicant,” it said.
The court said that the “false implication” of the applicant cannot be ruled out.
In September 2021, the High Court suspended the sentence of the main accused and former BJP MP Dinu Solanki pending his appeal against conviction by the CBI court on June 7, 2019. The Supreme Court later confirmed the order of bail.
Shiva Solanki had sought suspension of sentence and release on bail pending hearing and final disposal of criminal appeal in the High Court.
Shiva Solanki and six others were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of ₹ 15 lakh in a case of murder and criminal conspiracy.
On July 20, 2010, Amit Jethwa was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court after he tried to expose illegal mining activities allegedly involving Dinu Solanki through RTI applications.
An FIR was lodged against two unknown assailants and the investigation was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which filed a chargesheet.
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