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'What was CBI doing till now in Malegaon case?'

Last updated on: January 17, 2011 15:40 IST

'What was CBI doing till now in Malegaon case?'

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Vicky Nanjappa

The focus of the entire nation is on the Central Bureau of Investigation as it readies itself to re-investigate the Malegaon blasts case. The CBI says that it has a Herculean task ahead since it will have to question all the accused all over again apart from finding more than what the Anti Terrorism Squad had already found.

The focus will, however, be on Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused and also one the first persons arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts case, which killed 37 people in September, 2006.

Sadhvi's statements will be crucial to the investigation. Her advocate Ganesh Sovani, however, points out that they have not decided whether to challenge the re-investigation of the case.

In this interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Sovani points out that the CBI has its task cut out but the final call will be taken by the court which can accept or even reject the new line of investigation taken by the probe agency.

Please click NEXT to read what Advocate Sovani has to say about CBI's Malegaon re-investigation and Swami Aseemanand's alleged 'confession'.


Image: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur
Photographs: Rediff archives
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'Swami Aseemanand's confession has no significance at all'

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What are your immediate reactions to the CBI wanting to reinvestigate the Malegaon case?

I am a bit taken aback as the CBI had already taken over the investigation of Malegaon 2006 blast case way back in December 2008. One wonders what was it doing since then? Why should it wait for someone like Swami Assemanand to make a confessional statement in December 2010?

Do you think the Central Bureau of Investigation will do a better job than the ATS?

It is not a question of good job or bad job. When the ATS Maharashtra had filed the chargesheet through Investigation Officer ACP Kisan Shengal on December 22, 2006, it was doing so after a thorough investigation of the crime, in which some Pakistani nationals too are accused.

All this had happened when Nationalist Congress Party and Congress governments were at Mumbai and Delhi respectively. Now how can the ATS investigation of 2006 be brushed aside simply because someone else (Sunil alias Manoj Joshi) has made claims about those previous blasts before Swami Aseemanand; and on the top of that person making such claim is no longer alive.

So unless there is corroborative evidence about the alleged claims made by Sunil Joshi, the so-called 'confessional statement' of Swami Aseemanand has no significance at all.          

When the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act have been confirmed in this case, is it necessary to have a second investigation?


The legal position is this ever since the chargesheet was filed way back in December, 2006. The matter has now come to a standstill, and to the best of my knowledge, even the charges have not been framed.

And none of the accused has even filed any discharge application in it, nor any move has been made for striking off the chargesheet, what we call in legal parlance as quashing (proceeding under section 482 of CrPC). So, the ATS investigation of 2006 blast is 'unchallenged'.

How do you think the confession of Aseemanand will affect this case?

Well, as I said earlier, a confessional statement per se is not sufficient to convict a person making such a statement, simply taking it by its face value.

There has to be corroborative evidence to that effect. Merely because Swami says now in 2011 that a person who is dead had made some claims, without any corroborative evidence, nothing can affect the earlier investigation.

 


Image: File photograph of Swami Aseemanand
Photographs: Rediff archives
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'Herculean task ahead of CBI'

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There is an outcry that some Muslim accused in the Malegaon case have not been released as yet? Could you please explain what will happen to that initial case?

See, the CrPC provides 'further investigation' under section 173(8), but the concept of 'fresh' or 're-investigation' is not incorporated in the law.

However, there are some rulings of high courts and also the Supreme Court on it. Still, it would be a Herculean task for the investigation agency to come to a 'diametrical opposite' conclusion and come out with new findings and obliterate an earlier investigation.

It has never happened so, unless any malafide intention or an ulterior motive of earlier investigation agency comes to the fore.

What does your client Sadhvi Pragya Singh have to say about the recent developments after Aseemanand's 'confession'?

Well, I haven't met her since long, as I am in touch through her relatives.

 


Image: People pay their last respects to Malegaon blast victims
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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'Role of ATS poses a big question mark'

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When one looks at the Aseemanand confession it looks very different to what the ATS had said in the initial part of the case. What do you have say about that?

Going by the affidavit reply filed by the ATS in Supreme Court in Sadhvi's bail by default application, ATS says that Sadhvi's arrest (which officially took place on October 23, 2008) was based on two confessional statements made by one Dharmendra Bairagi and Dilip Nahar Vinod Patidar under the same provisions of law before the Metropolitan Magistrate court at Girgaum, Mumbai on October 22, 2008.

However, after they went back to Indore, they filed two respective criminal cases against ATS personnel on November 26, 2008 for alleged torture, intimidation, threatening, etc. before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Indore, in which the deceased ATS chief Hemant Karkare was made the accused no.1, apart from scores of other officers.

While filing those two criminal cases, both have retracted their confessional statements and have narrated all the events under which they were made to confess.

Do you think this case has become a politically motivated one now?

Well, I can't answer this question, as I don't hold any brief on behalf of any political party.


Image: Slain Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare
Photographs: Rediff archives
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'Was the previous probe taken over just as formality'

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There has been a lot of talk regarding Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha leader Indresh Kumar. Why do you think he has not been arrested yet? Do the rest of the accused including Sadhvi feel let down by this?

If at all the Rajasthan ATS would have found out any evidence about Indresh Kumar or anyone else, it would have made him or any other such person as the accused. But neither Indresh Kumar nor Swami have been shown as 'wanted accused', going by the Ajmer blast chargesheet.

So this is purely an afterthought and by taking help of the media, some loose statements are deliberately made to deflect the attention of the people.

Please tell us what will be your next course of action. Would you move the higher court against a reinvestigation?

Well, I have no instructions in this regard. Let us see, how the events unfold.

Why do you think the CBI wants to reinvestigate the case?

The timing of CBI approaching for the re-investigation could become a topic of debate, as it was 'seized' with the matter since December, 2008, ever since it took over. The onus is on it to explain what it did since the last 24 months? Whether previously the investigation was taken over merely as a 'formality'?

 


Image: RSS leader Indresh Kumar
Photographs: Rediff archives
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'Court may not accept CBI's re-investigation'

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What is the task ahead of the CBI now?

The CBI will have to gather independent and separate evidence to come to a conclusion that is completely different from the one the ATS has come to.

However, the final authority lies with the court as it can accept or reject the new findings. The courts have the power to accept the new findings in toto, partially or even reject it completely.

What do you make of the recent controversy regarding the death of Hemant Karkare and also the statements by (Congress general secretary) Digvijay Singh?


I would prefer to deal with it separately and not to mix it up with the developments subsequent to Swami's alleged confessional statement.

 


Image: The Malegaon blast site
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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