As the Central Bureau of Investigation readies itself to re-investigate the Malegaon bombs blasts case, the focus of the entire nation is upon the agency. The CBI says that it has a Herculean task ahead since it will have to question all the accused once again apart from finding more than what the ATS had already found.
The focus will however be on Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur one of the accused in the Malegaon case who was one of the fist persons to be arrested in connection with this case. He statements will be crucial to the investigation. He advocate Ganesh Sovani however points out that they have not decided as yet to challenge the re-investigation of the case. In this interview with rediff.com, he however 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 CBI.
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 stake claim by way of his alleged 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 charge sheet through Investigation Officer ACP Kisan Shengal on 22.12.2006, it was doing so after a thorough investigation of the crime, in which some Pakistan nationals too are accused. All this had happened when NCP & Congress governments were at Mumbai and Delhi respectively. Now how the ATS investigation of 2006 can be brushed aside simply because some one else (i.e. Sunil @ Manoj Joshi) has made claims about those previous blast before Swami Aseemanand and on the top of that person making such claim is no more alive. So unless there is a corroborative evidence about the alleged claims made by Sunil Joshi, so called confessional statement of Swami has no significance at all.
When the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Aact have been confirmed in this case is it necessary to have a second investigation?
The legal position is this ever since the charge sheet was filed way back in December, 2006 in this matter. 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 have even filed any discharge application in it, nor any move has been made for striking off the charge sheet, what we call in legal parlance as (quashing proceeding under section 482 of Cr.P.C). So, ATS investigation of 2006 blast is ‘unchallanged’.
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 even to convict a person making such statement, simply taking it by its face value. There has to be a 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.
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 Cr.P.C. 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 Hon’ble Supreme Court on it. However, 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 development after Aseemanand?
Well, I haven’t met her since long, as I am in touch through her relatives.
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 Sadhwi’s bail by default application, ATS says that Sadhwi’s arrest (which officially) took place on 23.10.2008 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 Girgaum, Mumbai on22.10.2008. However, after they went back to Indore, they filed two respective criminal cases against ATS personnel on 26.11.2008 for alleged torture, intimidation, threatening, etc. before the JMFC, Indore, in which the deceased Hemant Karkare was made as 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 political party.
There has been a lot of talk regarding Indresh Kumar. Why do you think he has not been arrested as yet. Do the rest of the accused including Sadhvi feel let down by this?
If at all Rajasthan ATS would have found out any evidence about Indresh Kumar or any one else, it would have made him or such any other person as accused. But neither Indresh Kumar nor Swami have been shown as ‘wanted accused’, going by Ajmer blast charge sheet. So this is purely an after thought and by taking help of the media, some loose statements are deliberately made to deflect the attention of the people.
Please tell us what your next course of action is. Would you move the higher court against a reinvestigation?
Well, I have no instructions in this regard. Let us see, how the events get unfolded.
Why do you think the CBI wants to reinvestigate the case?
The timing of CBI approaching for the re-investigation could become a top 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 twenty four months? Whether the investigation was taken over merely as a ‘formality’ ?
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 Hemanth Karkare and also thr statements by 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.