In a major relief to BJP president Amit Shah, a special CBI court in Mumbai on Tuesday discharged him in the case of the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing in 2005, citing insufficient evidence.

“I am of the opinion that the inference drawn by the CBI is not accepted in totality and he cannot be charged as an accused,” Special CBI Judge MB Gosavi said in a brief order pronounced in the court. Details of the judgement will be available later.

The CBI had charged Shah, then Minister of State for Home in Gujarat, as an accused in the killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh as well as Tulsiram Prajapati, who was said to have been an eyewitness to the encounter.

The CBI had cited some alleged telephone calls between Shah and two other accused in the case.

Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin on Tuesday expressed disappointment over the court’s decision and said Shah had been saved because of the Centre’s interference.

“The CBI has been used, Amit Shah has been saved with pressure from high up. This is all because of Central Government’s interference. We will go to the (Bombay) High Court,” he said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the discharging of Shah in the case has vindicated the BJP’s stand. Using his personal Twitter handle, Rajnath tweeted that he is “extremely pleased” to know that Shah has given a clean chit.

Ruling worrisome: Cong

The Congress, meanwhile, described the court’s decision as “strange and worrisome”, and alleged that there was “government pressure” on a “chained, caged and totally immobilised” CBI. “There are many questions to answer, serious questions.... And most importantly there was statement under (Section) 164 (CrpC) before the magistrate,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said in a series of tweets.

“None of this was projected by the CBI counsel during the 15-minute submission before the Mumbai court. There are serious questions for the CBI to answer. There are serious questions to the Central government, which seems to have become the master of the caged parrot all over again.”

He said the CBI counsel argued “only for 15 minutes” whereas defence lawyers argued in favour of Shah for three days. He alleged that the Special CBI judge, Special Public Prosecutor and Investigating Officers of the agency were changed during the course of trial.

Recalling that there was earlier a judicial order that Shah should be kept away from Gujarat as he can influence the investigations, party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar wondered why “suddenly you find that there has been a total U-turn ...suddenly he is exonerated.” “So it is definitely worrisome... it is very strange,” he said.

The AAP said there are “glaring discrepancies” in what is in the chargesheet and the way the case was argued in the court. The party said the way the CBI has argued the case, it is nothing but a “blatant” and “open” misuse of the agency.