‘BJP suffers from amnesia when it comes to CBI cases’

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Congress spokesperson and MP Manish Tewari tells Kunal Majumder the CBI is not a pawn in the Centre’s hands

Why is the BJP saying the Congress is using the CBI to implicate Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?.
Basically, the BJP suffers from selective amnesia. When Haren Pandya’s father was screaming from the rooftop that the person who was possibly responsible for getting Pandya killed was the chief minister of Gujarat, the CBI investigated the matter and came to a different conclusion. So, it seems the BJP has one yardstick when it comes to Pandya and a different one when it comes to Amit Shah. In the case of Pandya, the CBI was doing a professional job, but in the case of Shah it suddenly becomes the Congress Bureau of Investigation!

How do you react to Geeta Johri’s allegation that the CBI is putting pressure on her to name BJP leaders?
I think there is a need to rewind and put things in perspective. The entire investigation into the fake encounters of Tulsiram Prajapati, Kausar Bi and Sohrabuddin Sheikh was the result of a letter written by Sohrabuddin’s brother to the Supreme Court (SC). The SC had entrusted the probe to a Special Investigation Team of the Gujarat Police headed by IGP Geeta Johri. Subsequently, when the SC found that the investigation was not proceeding in a proper manner, the court decided to entrust the matter to the CBI. The court also commented on the conduct of Johri. Now, she has filed a curative petition to get those comments expunged and has also made certain allegations against various people in the CBI team. But since the matter is sub judice, it is inappropriate to comment.

Isn’t the CBI being used as a Damocles sword by the UPA government? For instance, if Mayawati has good ties with the Centre, then it is fine. Otherwise, the CBI comes hunting…
The problem with these allegations is that when you have people who are about to be implicated or are on the wrong side of the CBI, they start taking political defence like, “I’m being harassed or victimised.” The CBI has inbuilt processes that are fairly robust. Let’s not forget that what the CBI does essentially fructifies into filing of a chargesheet before a court of law. Eventually, it is the judicial mind that will see whether the CBI has come to the right conclusion or not. So, the CBI is at best a prosecutor, subject to a rigorous court process. If they were to do a hatchet job, as is being alleged, then the conviction rate of the CBI would have been 2 percent, not 61 percent.

But hasn’t the image of the bureau taken a hit due to these allegations and counter-allegations?
If that was the case, then why is everybody clamouring for a CBI investigation nowadays? From Leh to Kanyakumari, whenever something happens, people want a CBI inquiry. Why is the father of Amit Jethwa, the man who was allegedly killed at the behest of BJP MP Dinu Solanki of Junagarh, demanding a CBI inquiry? I’m not saying that the CBI is God’s gift to mankind, but it is the only independent agency available in the midst of highly politicised police forces.

As a private member, you have tabled a bill on the CBI, but the government seems to be afraid of discussing its functioning…
Over a period of time, governments have grown comfortable with the CBI’s status. Nobody wants to disturb the very fine balance because law and order is a state subject. So, there is diffidence in taking the bull by its horns, but the legal basis of CBI is very tenuous. At some point of time, if a serious legal challenge is mounted, the CBI can be held to be an illegal organisation.

Photo: Trilochan S Kalra

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