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The hounding of Amit Shah: A history

Author: Kartikeya Tanna
Publication: Niticentral.com
Date: February 6, 2014
URL:   http://www.niticentral.com/2014/02/06/the-hounding-of-amit-shah-187388.html

After several months of endless maligning through innuendos, selective leaks and sensational reportage, particularly the umpteen references to “black beard and white beard”, CBI has had to finally succumb to the fact that it simply has no case against Gujarat’s former Minister of State for Home and Narendra Modi’s key aide Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. In its second chargesheet filed on Thursday, CBI has not been able to implicate Amit Shah even indirectly.

That the CBI was playing vicious games at the behest of its political masters was a fact that eluded many in the media and the commentariat. If CBI could dilute cases against its own masters, the obvious fact that it could easily exaggerate against rivals of its masters missed many an expert. Denials, however strong, from Narendra Modi and the BJP fell on deaf ears as the temptation to latch on to the propaganda of the ‘secular’ herd was just too strong.

Worse, they looked the other way when the higher judiciary of our country gave its critical pronouncements on Amit Shah. This column shall reiterate some of them.

At the time Amit Shah’s bail application was being heard in the Gujarat High Court in 2010 in the Sohrabuddin case, the High Court made some stinging observations against CBI’s manner of functioning. It even alluded to CBI’s actual motive for arresting Shah as is evidenced in this screenshot below.

What was this “internal note”? The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has incidentally thrown light on how CBI files in Sohrabuddin encounter case contain a file noting which reflects the view of senior CBI officials that adding Shah as an accused was necessary to reach Modi.

In addition to making prima facie observations on the sheer weakness of witness statements and how two IPS officers (Geeta Johri and OP Mathur) were compelled by CBI to give a statement implicating Shah, the HC couldn’t resist from alluding to the CBI’s many tale twists.

The internal note of the CBI regard to the arrest of the present applicant clearly refers to the consideration for arrest which has been much emphasised by learned Sr Counsel Mr. Jethmalani. This clearly states that it is emphasised that an accused can be usable as an approver after Shri Shah (accused) is arrested which is also quote in detail in the paper-book. This itself will reflect about the manner of investigation. However, as the Hon'ble Apex Court is supervising the investigation, it is not proper to make any comment on it(emphasis supplied)

The Court is conscious about the faxt that the Hon'ble Apex Court has directed the investigation to be made by CBI and as the Hon'ble Apex Court is srpervising. it would not be desirable to further reflect on the evidence at this stage. However, from the discussion made hereinabove, which has a refrence to the character of evidence.

True, CBI did appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Court, while continuing Amit Shah’s bail, imposed a condition that Amit Shah would not visit Gujarat. Eventually, in 2012, the Court allowed Amit Shah to visit Gujarat.

Since the Supreme Court refused to cancel Amit Shah’s bail, the CBI tried another trick.

All along, the CBI had argued that the encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati (a material witness to the killing of Sohrabuddin) was closely connected to Sohrabuddin encounter and that both cases must be tried together. Why would the CBI do that? It wanted to increase the culpability of the accused by adding the follow-up killing of a material witness.

However, clubbing both cases together for trial would mean that CBI would not be able to regard the Prajapati killing as a fresh case and thereby file a fresh FIR. Why is filing a fresh FIR useful? It would give CBI grounds for arresting Amit Shah again albeit for a different case. Arresting him would be beneficial to BJP’s political rivals since his services cannot be used by the BJP for elections.

Therefore, CBI tried separating the two cases after arguing for several months that both were closely connected. The Supreme Court, thankfully, saw through this and rejected the CBI’s attempt.

The Court pointed out that in the very first FIR filed by CBI, in July 2010, CBI had mentioned that killing of Prajapati was a part of the very same conspiracy as the killing of Sohrabuddin. In fact, CBI had requested the Court to allow it to do “further investigation”, i.e., investigate the Prajapati encounter too, so that it could complete investigation for that first FIR.

The Supreme Court therefore, concluded as is evident from the screenshots below:

34) In view of the consistent stand taken by the CBI, at this juncture, CBI not be permitted to adopt a contradictory stand.


Court Accordingly, the sweeping power of investigation does nor warrant subjecting a citizen each time to fresh investigation by the police in respect of the same incident, giving rise to one or more cognizable offences. As a consequence, in our view this is a fit case for quashing the second F.I.R meet the ends of justice

The Supreme Court also held that the CBI’s act of filing the second FIR and fresh chargesheet was unconstitutional as it violated Amit Shah’s fundamental rights under Articles 14, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

the view that filling of the second FIR and fresh charge sheet is violative of fundamental rights under Article 14, 20 and 21 of the Consitution since the same relate to alleged offence in respect of which an FIR had already been filed and the court has taken cognizance.This Court categorically

Indeed, to be sure, this isn’t to say that all cases against Amit Shah are permanently disposed of. However, the rather clear motive with which the CBI has tried to hound Amit Shah simply in order to somehow drag Narendra Modi into the realm of danger underscores the importance of making it completely independent of the Executive.

The caged parrot only really transmutes into a wild wolf when its masters want it to hound political rivals. When Narendra Modi says CBI is an ally of the Congress in fighting the BJP in elections, he is spot on.
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