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The Rediff Interview/Former CBI Director P C Sharma

December 16, 2003

P C Sharma handed over charge as director, Central Bureau of Investigation, to U S Misra on December 6. 

Sharma is confident that the agency will take the case of Dilip Singh Judeo, former central minister and Ajit Jogi, former chief minister of Chhattisgarh, to its logical conclusion. Judeo is accused of accepting money on a video tape; Jogi is accused of trying to bribe Bharatiya Janata Party legislators on audio tape.

In an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh at his home in New Delhi Sharma also agreed with the suggestion that the Telgi stamp paper scam is not the handiwork of a single individual. "Clearly some influential people are involved in it," he said.

You demitted office at a time when the CBI is handling a number of high profile cases particularly the Judeo and Jogi tapes. What is happening in the two cases?

I do not know what is happening to the case of Ajit Jogi because the case was registered after I demitted office of director, CBI. So my understanding is what I have read in newspapers. The case has been transferred by the Chhattsigarh government to the CBI for further investigations.

As far as Judeo is concerned a preliminary enquiry was registered during my time. Notices were issued to Judeo and his personal secretary Natwar Rateria. In the first instance they did not comply with the notices and the notices were issued to them again. (Both Judeo and Rateria were questioned by the CBI on December 11 and they explained their position. Judeo was shown in a video clip taking money from a representative of an Australian firm for giving mining rights in Chhattisgarh and Orissa).

Is it true that the CBI is adopting two different yardsticks in the two different cases?

I emphatically deny the charge. The CBI is not targetting anybody other than who is involved in the crime. We are talking to those who figured in the tape. Since the basic information like who was the prerson who offered the bribe etc was lacking. He does not figure in the tape.

Secondly, what was the motive for giving the bribe? If there was any motive was it directly under the consideration of former minister Dilip Singh Judeo? We also had to gather information like who booked the room, who paid for the bills and what were the circumstances under which the whole episode took place. That is why we registered a preliminary enquiry which has its own legal status. Both cases are registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Both the bribe giver and taker are liable for action.

Don't you think the CBI is taking too long to finish its preliminary enquiry?

Not at all. In one month the CBI has never finished a preliminary enquiry. This case is not even one month old. We are moving in top gear. The moment it came to us we registered a preliminary enquiry and seized the tape and sent it for forensic examination. We have issued notices to various persons and collected lot of material on that.

Don't you feel that the CBI hurried to register a case against Jogi while it is still groping with the Judeo case?

Registeration of a case is one thing and ascertaining the allegations another thing. We would have to send the tape for establishing the authenticity of the voice. Only an expert can give his opinion that whether the voice in quesition is that of Mr Jogi or not. He would have to give scientific reasons to prove his point.

Are you saying that CBI would take the two cases to their logical conclusions?

Of course, the CBI will be doing precisely that. Both the Judeo and Jogi cases would be examined in detail and action taken accordingly.

Do you think the Telgi case is fit enough to be handled by CBI?

The Telgi case has ramifications in a number of states across the nation. Only the CBI has countrywide jurisdiction to investigate the cases. Some cases have already been registered by us and they are being investigated. Others particularly from Maharashtra and Karnataka would also come to CBI very soon.

Do you think Abdul Kareem Telgi could have done all this by himself, particularly when we are talking of a Rs 30 billion scam?

This should be evident to anyone that no individual -- no matter how sharp he may be -- could not have done the scam of this magnitude on his own. Obviously, he has been helped by some accomplices and influential people.  

Is an audio tape admissible as an evidence under the Evidence Act?

The audio tape is admissible under the Evidence Act if one could prove beyond an element of doubt that the voice in the tape is that of a certain individual. As I said this would have to be proved scientifically. But the expert has to convince the court about his conclusions. You and I cannot testify that the voice belongs to X or Y.

You may have a situation where a large number of people will tape their adversaries and send the same to the CBI. How is the agency going about it?

This is an interesting proposition. Each case is different from the other. You cannot deal with each and every tape as it comes. That is precisely why the CBI registered a preliminary enquiry to find out the truth behind the incident leading to the Judeo tape. The FIR [first information report] will be registered only after it is established that prima facie there is a case.

Is the CBI buckling under pressure in the Judeo case?

Not at all. There is no question of buckling under pressure. The CBI does not work in that manner. The CBI will even take the Judeo case to its logical conclusion.

Photograph: Sondeep Shankar/Saab Press. Design: Uttam Ghosh

The Rediff Interviews

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Sub: Govt.'s pet

no way the CBI is going great guns. CBI is used such a dignified and professional investigating agency. but now it has become a pet ...

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