Sometimes, you are compelled to look back to conceptualize what lies ahead.
New Year 2015, please don’t be surprised if you focus your eyes on newspaper and read the following sort of report:
“Following intelligence reports that two high-profile events of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and Vibrant Gujarat Investors Summit in state capital Gandhinagar could be a target of terror attacks, anti-terror mock drills are being carried out across Gujarat. The mock drill was conducted in Dobari coastal region in Olpad town of Surat to check the force’s preparedness in case of a terror attack. A video of the drill shows five policemen holding three dummy terrorists who are wearing skullcaps. The trio was also shown lying down, while policemen keep a watch on them. The video ends with the men posing as terrorists being bundled into a police jeep after being captured alive.
For fraction of a moment my cynic mind darted ‘flash back.’ It was more than an epiphany. I realized the wisdom of our Prime Minister who had made the headlines way back on Sep 19. 2011. “AHMEDABAD: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi refused to put on a ‘skull cap’ offered by a Muslim cleric during his sadbhavana fast in Ahmedabad. Sayed Imam Shahi Saiyed, a cleric of a small Dargah in Pirana village on the outskirts of the city (he lives in Savali village of Dakor taluka), had on Sunday gone up to stage to greet the chief minister, at Gujarat University Convention hall. He offered Narendra Modi a ‘skull cap’, but Modi politely refused to wear it, asking him to offer a shawl instead. The imam did so, and Modi was seen accepting it.”
So, you see, to look forward at 2015, you have to look back at 2011. Do you find and uncanny link between the two incidents? Yes or No? It is MINDSET!
Now, let us talk shop. Amit Shah, the second most powerful man in the present Indian Power setup, is offered a CLEAN CHIT. I’m spending the word ‘clean chit’ because it is lucid more than any word of dictionary, in the present context. As the Indian citizen, we are beholden to accept and respect the decision of court whether we like it or not. However, we do still enjoy the freedom to analyze the process flow that engendered that judgment.
Like a school boy I would begin the topic with simplest pyramid of judiciary which is topped by a judge or a jury. A Judge has to play many roles. He interprets the law, assesses the evidence presented, and controls the flow and sequence of hearings as the trials unfold in the courtrooms. A judge is supposed to be strict impartial decision-maker in the pursuit of justice. In between the contests of opposing sides, he remains above the fray. He is to provide an independent and impartial assessment of the facts and how the law applies to those facts. The judge is the “trier of fact,” deciding whether the evidence is credible and which witnesses are telling the truth.
The ‘trial of Mr. Amit Shah’ has been a protracted litigation with wide-spread ramification as more text-book style post-mortems of the case, process of justice and judgment would follow in times to come irrespective of who forms the future governments at the center and state.
Observing that the charges against BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounters had a political undertone, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here on Tuesday discharged him from the case. “I found substance in the main contention made by the applicant [Mr. Shah] that he was involved in the case by the CBI for political reasons,” special CBI judge M.B. Gosavi said.
Many in the country feel that once again the Investigating agencies have failed the people of India by letting out a powerful political leader despite having enough evidence of involvement in the most heinous crime. The accused has been acquitted by the Special CBI Court even before the trial for the case could start. Sohrabuddin Fake Encounter case has been in the political limelight for over 8 years now.
On 23 November, 2005, Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausarbi and Tulsi Prajapati were abducted from a bus near Sangali in Maharashtra. Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi were kept in a farm house near Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Sohrabuddin was murdered in a fake encounter on 26th November. His wife Kausarbi was allegedly raped while in custody of Gujarat Police and on 29th November was murdered as well. Within a year, on 28th December, 2006, Tulsi Prajapati was also eliminated.
In September 2012, the CBI filed a charge sheet in a Gujarat court against 37 accused, including Mr. Shah; the former Superintendent of Police, Anti-terrorism Squad, Ahmedabad, Rajkumar Pandiyan; the then Inspector-General of Police (CID), Geetha Johri; and former IPS officer D.G. Vanzara under sections 302 (murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code.
In February this year, Mr. Shah had filed a discharge application, saying the case against him was politically motivated.
You need not be an expert of Indian Judicial System to sense that something has been amiss in the trial process after the change of guards at the center. It is quite clear that available evidences against Amit Shah in the fake encounter cases have been ignored. Also, it is passing strange that the Special CBI court didn’t wait for even the trial to commence. Without the weighing of the evidences at length, the court abruptly concurred with the ‘defense’ that Amit Shah was caught in a political trap. What were the thought propellers for this impatience with the process of the trial?
What about the solid evidence of call details records, witness statements recorded under Section 161 and 164 Cr PC?
The state CID investigations had led to the arrests of the senior police officers that were based on record phone call details between Shah and accused police officers. How to explain the lacuna that once the Supreme Court directed the transfer of investigation to the CBI, the CID failed to hand over the CD containing these phone conversations. A total of 331 conversations had been deleted from the record.
The report of IGP Gita Johri, who was made in charge of the state CID investigation, recorded in Part B of her first report, how Shah attempted to sabotage the enquiry was entirely ignored. She has recorded that though she and the Investigating Officer Solanki did not face any “hurdle” initially, “However, as soon as the statements of witnesses pertaining to confinement of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi in the Farm House of Shri Girish Patel at Ahmedabad came to be recorded, it came to the knowledge of Shri Vanzara and Shri Rajkumar Pandian [two of the accused officers].
It is further learnt that these officers brought the above facts to the notice of Respondent No. 2, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Government of Gujarat.” It further states that Shah “brought to bear pressure” on the enquiry process, resulting in the enquiry papers being taken away from her “under the guise of scrutiny”. He “directed Shri G.C. Raigar, Additional Director General of Police, CID (Crime & Railways) to provide him with the list of witnesses, both police and private, who are yet to be contacted by CID (Crime) for recording their statement in the said enquiry. Such direction of Minister of State for Home goes beyond the scope of his office, was patently illegal and apparently designed to provide the same list to accused police officers … so as to enable them to take measures in their defense.”
Even a casual observer can make out CBI did put a very poor defense in the Amit Shah’s discharge application. Amit Shah, with all the resources as his disposal, hired a battery of top lawyers. Ironically, no Special Prosecutor was appointed by the CBI for this case. It turned out to be one-sided case. Amit Shah’s lawyers had the field’s day as they argued for 3 days and our smart, erudite and sharpest CBI’s lawyer finished his argument within fifteen minutes. The Judges who had rebuked Amit Shah for his non-appearance in the court were already transferred.
The BJP calls Mr. Shah’s discharge a “victory of truth and a vindication” of the party’s stand that the Congress had misused the CBI.
Aam Admi Party on Tuesday said it had warned the country last week about the BJP’s central government’s ‘sinister conspiracy’ of clearing the ‘criminal past’ of the party national president. AAP has insisted that Modi’s government direct and open interference in the functioning of the CBI has led to the dropping of serious criminal charges against Amit Shah in the case of kidnapping and cold blooded murders of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and eyewitness Tulsiram Prajapati.
While Aam Admi Party said it is shocking that the CBI, which in its successive status reports before the Supreme Court and in its bulky chargesheet presented in the special court earlier this year, had described Shah as the lynchpin of the conspiracy, suddenly took an amazing u-turn to protect him now. The deliberate cover-ups by the CBI are too glaring to be ignored. The party challenged the agency to answer the following questions, if it has any answers:
1) Why did the CBI not appoint a special public prosecutor in this case?
2) Why did the CBI response to Amit Shah’s discharge application not mention that he was the main conspirator of this case?
3) What was the reason for such a limp response to Shah’s lengthy discharge application?
4) Is this not a fact that a junior counsel argued merely for 15 minutes as opposed to three days of arguments by Shah’s lawyers?
5) Why did the CBI not oppose permanent exemption for Shah when his lawyers sought it?
AAP said Supreme Court had rightly termed the CBI a caged parrot as its autonomy has been a matter of fierce debate in the country during past few years and the conduct of the agency raised serious questions about its independence autonomy.
Now, the CBI Director Anil Sinha says that the agency would study the court order before deciding its further course of action.
By: Naim Naqvi