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Mainstream, VOL LII No 28, July 5, 2014

Amit Shah’s Innocence Proven?

Saturday 5 July 2014


by Rajinder Puri

According to media reports, the decision to appoint Amit Shah as the next President of the BJP has been all but finalised. The official announcement expected in a few days is to be a mere formality. Senior BJP leaders, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj, had expressed reservations about Shah’s appointment until the murder cases in which he is accused are satisfactorily disposed of. It may be recalled that earlier Nitin Gadkari was removed from the BJP President’s post on grounds of comparatively trivial allegations of financial irregularities in business which subsequently were never proved. However, the RSS and leaders of the BJP consider that Shah still being an accused in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter murder case is of little consequence. They believe there is no merit in the case and he will be proved innocent.

Circumstantial evidence does suggest that Shah may be proved innocent. It is true that according to the Gujarat Government, fake encounters involving three murders had taken place while Shah was the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the State. It is true that several senior police officers investigating that case have been found guilty by the court and are serving jail sentences. It is true that if Shah was aware of their actions he would, under the law, be deemed guilty. It is true that during the relevant period when the murders were committed, Shah had spoken 331 times over telephone with the guilty police officers who are in jail. It is true that a senior Gujarat Police officer had doctored the recorded conversations between Shah and the police officers to delete Shah’s part of the conversation. It is true that the officer concerned was indicted, for which reason the Supreme Court imposed curbs on Shah’s movements during bail. It is true that Shah has already served some time in prison related to that case and continues to be on bail. However, new circumstances suggest that Shah may in fact be proved innocent.

It now transpires that former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, who acted as the amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, has been found unsuitable by the NDA Government to become a Supreme Court judge for which post his name had been proposed by the Supreme Court collegium established to appoint judges. Former Chief Justice Venkatachaliah has pointed out specifically how the government’s action in striking off Subramaniam’s name from the list of Supreme Court judges proposed by the collegium violated procedure. But as BJP sympathisers may well argue, should not minor procedural violations be overlooked in order to hasten the advent of “acche din”? Subramaniam as the amicus curiae was mainly instrumental through his interventions to persuade the Supreme Court to transfer the investigation of the Sohrabuddin case from the Gujarat Police to the CBI. It was the CBI probe that accused Shah and had him arrested. But BJP sympathisers may well argue that if Subramaniam is unsuitable as a Supreme Court judge can his role as amicus curiae be relied upon? That is not all. It seems that the CBI Judge, Justice J.T. Utpat, who denied Shah permission to avoid appearance in court due to repeated excuses, has been transferred. Was Shah being unnecessarily harassed by the court?

That is not all. The lawyers who represented the Gujarat Government unsuccessfully in the fake encounter murders case have now emerged as distinguished and deserving of reward. The three lawyers were Mukul Rohtagi, Ranjit Kumar and Tushar Mehta. All three have been appointed as the top law officers under Modi’s government. Rohtagi is the new Attorney General, Ranjit Singh is Solicitor General; and Tushar Mehta is the Additional Solicitor General. From all this, does it not appear that in the past the judicial system erred and Amit Shah was wrongly accused? Now there is every chance that errors of the past will be corrected. Shah could be the new BJP President because he was innocent. It is only cynics who might say that Shah could be innocent because he will be the new BJP President.

(Courtesy: The Statesman)

The author is a veteran journalist and cartoonist. He blogs at

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