‘Modi cannot declare an accused to be innocent’

Photo: Naveesh Tejpal

CBI lawyer KTS Tulsi tells Kunal Majumder that the Gujarat Chief Minister is interfering in the Sohrabuddin case

Earlier, you were representing Gujarat. Now you are on the other side. Isn’t it unethical?
I’m not on the other side. Earlier, I was appearing for the investigating agency [SIT], which had come to the conclusion that it was a fake encounter. Now also I’m appearing for the State, that is the CBI.

Were you aware of the complicity of people like Amit Shah?
No. At that time, the murder was stage-managed by certain police officers of Gujarat and Rajasthan. And then, suddenly I find on television the chief minister [of Gujarat] making a public speech and asking the people, ‘What should we do to a terrorist like Sohrabuddin, do you think we should garland him?’ And the crowd shouting back: ‘Kill, kill’.

Do you believe that Narendra Modi still owes an explanation to the country on the statement he made?
I think the chief minister is continuing to interfere with the judicial process. I don’t think it is correct for the CM to give a certificate of innocence to any accused from a public platform.

The CBI petition to the Supreme Court says that senior CID officers like Geetha Johri were forced to change track. But during the hearing on 3 March 2007, you had submitted to the Supreme Court that Johri was not removed from the investigation with an ulterior motive. Isn’t this contradictory? 
Those revelations have come to light now. At that time, no one knew that her husband was involved in some case. Neither did we know that that factor is going to influence the investigation. But I always believed that she is a very fine officer. In fact, she was the person who cracked the case.

How strong is the prosecution’s case? Although clinching call records were published by TEHELKA, aspersions have been cast on the sting conducted by the CBI. 
I don’t want to discuss the details of evidence. When a conspiracy takes place between those who are in a position of authority to commit such crimes and run syndicates for extortion, they will obviously get these crimes committed through persons whose other activities may be wrong. But they are the only witnesses we will get, the only witnesses who will stand up. The court will scrutinise their evidence with great caution.

The CBI has not sought transfer of the trial from Gujarat to another state. Was there pressure after Modi lashed out at the CBI, which made you retract in court? 
I did not say that we do not want the case to be transferred. I only said in the status report that we have not requested the Supreme Court to transfer the case. That was a factual statement. But if we find that the discovery of truth is being hampered in Gujarat, we might still request the Supreme Court to have the trial in a neutral place.

How important is NK Amin turning an approver? 
Normally, an approver’s testimony turns out to be the clincher. If Amin has spoken the entire truth, it is going to be a clincher.

Will the CBI seek permission to question Modi in the encounter case as he is also the home minister?
That is a decision known only to the investigator. We will come to know only after the decisions are made.

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