A new judge will start hearing on March 22 three pleas filed in the Bombay High Court against the discharge of some senior police officers in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, PTI reported.

On February 24, the High Court had replaced Justice Revati Mohite-Dere, who had been hearing a set of five petitions – three by Rubabuddin Sheikh and two by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The replacement came just three weeks after Mohite-Dere started presiding over daily hearings of the pleas. The Bombay High Court had called the reassignment of the case a “routine change”.

Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin said he would request the new judge, Justice NW Sambre, to be allowed to approach the High Court’s chief justice to get the matter assigned to Mohite-Dere again. He said Mohite-Dere had “extensively heard the arguments” and “going before a new bench and re-doing all the arguments will be a needless waste of time”.

While Sambre will hear Rubabuddin Sheikh’s pleas on March 22, the CBI has not yet got a new date for the hearing of its petitions.

Justice Mohite-Dere had already finished hearing three of the five pleas, and had consistently pulled up the CBI for lack of clarity in presenting the prosecutor’s case, for its failure to protect witnesses and for opposing the discharge of lower-level police personnel while remaining quiet on the discharge of senior officers. She had also lifted a gag order on media reportage of the proceedings in the case.

After the case was reassigned, the Bombay Lawyers Association had written to the Bombay High Court’s chief justice seeking “remedial action”. The group said the replacement of the judge was intriguing, “considering how Justice Mohite-Dere has consistently reprimanded the CBI’s approach to the case”. Senior lawyers told Scroll.in that the reassignment of judges may be “routine”, but was unfortunate.