Millennium Post

Silence of the agency lambs

The Central Bureau of Investigation’s reluctance to file an appeal against a lower court’s decision that absolved BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case has raised many eyebrows. In one hearing on December 31, 2014, a special CBI court in Mumbai absolved Amit Shah of three murders in one hearing.

The CBI had earlier charged Shah, the then home minister of Gujarat, as a prime accused in the killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsriam Prajapati, who was said to have been an eyewitness to the encounter. As the CBI took the initiative to file a detailed chargesheet and pursue the case for the last four years, it would be logical for the agency to file an appeal in the higher court. In its judgment, the lower court had inferred that conclusions drawn by the CBI were not sufficient to charge Shah as an accused in the case. Although details of the judgement are currently unavailable, the court’s decision does cast a dark shadow on the investigative agency yet again.

Leaders from various opposition parties have charged the CBI for allegedly taking a U-turn in the murder case. Referring to the ‘changed stand’ adopted vis-a-vis Shah’s alleged role in the two murders, opposition leaders had said that the CBI presented a ‘limp’ submission before the court in Mumbai, where Shah’s lawyers had filed a discharge application. Adding insult to injury, the CBI counsel did not even bother to appoint a special prosecutor, despite the magnitude of the case. Under the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration the CBI claimed that Shah was the ‘kingpin’ behind the murders.

Though, the CBI had earlier submitted that multiple calls were made between Shah and the accused cops at the time of the killings, the lower court judge said that it is ‘not unnatural’ for a home minister to work closely with the police as ‘terrorist activities have increased and are rampant all over the world.’ In light of the above circumstances, the court’s decision may point towards two conclusions. Either Shah was unfairly targeted by the erstwhile central regime, or his recent acquittal comes at the time, when his party controls the Centre.

It was only last year that the Supreme Court questioned the agency’s credibility, during its assessment of the coal scam probe, calling it a ‘caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice’. A similar accusation can be laid upon the agency in this case too, considering the position Shah’s party holds in the ruling establishment.

The CBI must take a definitive stand on whether it will appeal against the lower court’s decision. Irrespective of its decision, however, the agency will be left in an embarrassing situation.
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