Has CBI gone wrong in case related to MP Afzal Ansari?

August 6th, 2008 - 10:24 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party
By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has wrongly accused a judge in Uttar Pradesh of violating a Supreme Court order in a case related to the murder trial of Samajwadi Party MP Afzal Ansari and his brother, opine legal experts. The CBI seems to have made the “wrong allegation” in a petition to the apex court to get the trial of the Ansari brothers shifted from the Ghazipur sessions judge’s court to the special CBI court in Lucknow.

The trial, which is at present suspended, relates to the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Krishnanad Rai and nine of his supporters in 2005.

The CBI has said in its petition that the judge heard the bail pleas of some of the accused despite an apex court order March 5, 2008 asking him to suspend all judicial proceedings related to the murder trial.

But it now turns out that the Supreme Court passed no such order.

V. Prabhakar Rao, a Supreme Court lawyer, said: “This allegation is obviously wrong. It could weaken the CBI’s case.”

Legal experts also say it could compromise the credibility of Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati, who appeared for the agency before the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan last Friday to seek transfer of the case from the Ghazipur court.

The CBI said in its petition: “Another important fact, which needs to be brought to the attention of the Supreme Court is that despite its order dated March 5, 2008 staying all further proceedings in the Ghazipur court, the judge, in gross violation of its order, has proceeded to hear the bail applications of the accused.”

The CBI made the allegations, apprehending that “a free and fair trial cannot be conducted in Ghazipur court”.

But legal experts point out that a Supreme Court order, passed by the bench of Justice Tarun Chaterjee and Justice H.S. Bedi April 24 this year, shows that the CBI has made a wrong allegation against the judge.

“It would be open for the applicants-accused to approach the (Ghazipur) trial court for bail and if the bail application is moved, the trial court shall decide it on merit,” the bench ruled April 24, while dismissing the bail pleas of some of the accused.

Legal experts therefore say that the CBI’s allegation against the judge is wrong.

“A wrong allegation against a sitting judge, made deliberately with mala fide intention, will not only weaken its case but also jeopardise the credibility of government’s top law officer, Vahanvati, who is a person of impeccable credentials,” said lawyer Suresh Chand, who practises in the Supreme Court.

Those facing trial for plotting Rai’s murder include Afzal Ansari, his brother Mukhtar Ansari who is an independent legislator in Uttar Pradesh, besides their brother-in-law Ezaj-Ul-Haque.

Rai and his nine supporters were gunned down, allegedly by notorious criminals like Munna Bajrangi, Atta-Ur-Rehman, Vishwas Nepali, Sanjeev Maheshwari, Rakesh Pandey and Ramu Mallah. The gangsters had ambushed Rai’s convoy in Ghazipur allegedly on the orders of the Ansari brothers.

The case was originally probed by the local police, which sent the Ansari brothers, their brother-in-law, besides Bajrangi and Rehman for trial in the Ghazipur district court.

But on a plea by Rai’s widow Alka Rai, the Allahabad High Court ordered the CBI to probe Rai’s killing. Following its probe, the CBI found Nepali, Maheshwari, Pandey and Mallah also involved in the killings.

The agency filed its probe report before the special CBI court in Lucknow. It also pleaded that the Ghazipur court shift the trial to the Lucknow court, but the Ghazipur judge dismissed the plea.

The CBI moved the Allahabad High Court against the Ghazipur’s court order, but the appeal was dismissed. The CBI has now moved the apex court challenging the high court order.

In its plea, the CBI has also enumerated various reasons to substantiate its apprehension that the Ghazipur court may not be able to hold a free and fair trial.

Among other things, it has said the Ansari brothers have been able to threaten and eliminate witnesses against them even when they were inside the Ghazipur jail.

The CBI has also alleged that the Ghazipur court had been holding the trial “in undue hurry” and has proceeded to conduct it in the absence of original documents and on the basis of photocopies of original documents, provided by the Ansari brothers.

Incidentally, the Ghazipur court dismissed the bail pleas.

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