“CBI has lost credibility, going by the way it handles cases in which Centre is politically interested”
The former Gujarat Minister, Amit Shah, on Wednesday alleged in the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remark, at his recent televised press conference, was an indication of the Centre's interference in his arrest.
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani made this submission before a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha, hearing an appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the Gujarat High Court's order granting Mr. Shah bail in the 2005 Sohrabuddin-Kausarbi murder case, and a petition for shifting the case out of the State.
On February 16, Dr. Singh, replying to a query on the delay in introducing the Constitution amendment Bill on the Goods and Services Taxes, stated “… But the opposition parties, particularly, the BJP has taken a hostile attitude and the reasons that have been given, frankly I cannot mention it in public, they say because you have taken some decision against a particular person, who was a minister in Gujarat, we must reverse it, I don't want to add further.”
This statement strengthened his contention that the conspiracy to arrest him was hatched by the Centre, Mr. Shah said.
In his affidavit, Mr. Shah said the CBI lost its credibility, going by the manner it had conducted investigation in cases involving either a political stake or in which the Centre was politically interested. The CBI, seeking cancellation of bail to Mr. Shah, said investigation revealed that he, in pursuance of a criminal conspiracy, had given illegal instructions on the Sohrabuddin case probe to G.C. Raiger, then Additional Director-General of Police, Home Guard. But as he did not oblige the former Minister, he was relieved of the additional charge of CID (Crime).
Refutes extortion charge
Refuting the CBI charge that he had used Sohrabuddin to extort money, Mr. Shah said: “Had he and the Gujarat police been using Sohrabuddin to extort money from others, they could logically have no motive to eliminate him at all. It appears that with a view to fulfilling the political task given to the CBI, the investigating agency has crossed all known limits of absurdity.”
Mr. Shah faulted the CBI also for not probing the role of the Andhra Pradesh police in the Sohrabuddin case and for suppressing evidence to the court. (Sohrabuddin was picked up by the police when he, along with his wife Kausarbi, was travelling by bus from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra.)
Mr. Shah, in another application, wanted the January 12, 2010 order entrusting the probe to the CBI recalled. He said the agency's intention “is to discredit Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a “merchant of death” and bring him down, and destabilise the democratically elected Gujarat government.
Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising objected to the court entertaining the affidavit filed by Mr. Shah along with a book written by a former CBI Director. The Bench asked Mr. Jethmalani to withdraw the book, and allowed the affidavit to be placed on record.
Threat to witnesses
Earlier, Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, amicus curiae in the case, explained the crucial role of Tulsiram Prajapati, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin case, who was also murdered, and said the State government had conducted an enquiry and already filed the charge sheet. He said the State was now threatening witnesses being interrogated by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin case.
Justice Alam told counsel that since the plea for a CBI probe into the Prajapati murder case was pending before another Bench of the Supreme Court and listed for hearing on March 9, the present matter could be taken up after that petition was heard. Accordingly the Bench listed the matter for April 6.