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Saturday, December 04, 2021

CBI chief gave Tytler a clean chit,his officers had said prosecute him

Journalist Jarnail Singh’s shoe carries a lot more weight than the words of the Joint Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation or of its Deputy Inspector General.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi |
April 26, 2009 1:06:19 am

Perhaps,journalist Jarnail Singh’s shoe carries a lot more weight than the words of the Joint Director (JD) of the Central Bureau of Investigation or of its Deputy Inspector General (DIG).

According to records obtained by The Sunday Express,the JD and DIG clearly recommended,in writing,that there was a strong case against Jagdish Tytler in the Bara Hindu Rao anti-Sikh riots case under a string of charges including murder,rioting and damage to property. Despite this,the agency’s director Ashwani Kumar signed on the clean chit to Tytler.

That’s not all.

After the shoe controversy sparked outrage and Tytler and fellow accused Sajjan Kumar were told to withdraw from the electoral race,both the Congress and the UPA said the Government was unaware of the clean chit to Tytler.

However,records also show that the CBI clean chit came after its Director of Prosecutions S K Sharma,who reports to the Law Ministry,also opined that the evidence against Tytler was too weak.

On April 2,CBI filed its final investigation report in the Bara Hindu Rao case (one of the seven the CBI registered after the Nanavati Commission report in 2005) despite this sharp division within.

Also,in December 2008,even after the CBI took the unprecedented step of sending a team to the US to question two crucial witnesses Jasbir Singh and Surender Singh on directions of the court and although it had secured testimonies indicting Tytler,it chose to pick holes in their version of events.

This is evident from status reports submitted by the CBI to the Ministry of Home Affairs,which directed the agency to register cases against Tytler,Kumar and Dharam Das Shastri after the Nanavati report was tabled in Parliament.

The CBI informed the Home Ministry that both witnesses had reiterated their allegations and the agency was trying to verify their statements and trying to trace one Sucha Singh,with whom Jasbir Singh claimed to have stayed during the riots.

The two testimonies — and details therein which the CBI was finding it difficult to corroborate after a gap of 25 years — were hastily processed within the CBI. Eventually,the Investigating Officer (IO),Superintendent of Police (SP) and the Deputy Legal Advisor (DLA),among others,recommended closure of the case,citing contradictions in the statements of witnesses.

A contrary view was taken by the DIG and the JD.

In a three-page opinion,Joint Director Arun Kumar discussed the merits and demerits of the evidence against Tytler at length. Kumar acknowledged that Surinder Singh had done several flip-flops in his testimony against Tytler. For example,he told the Nanavati Commission in January 2002 that Tytler led the mob and incited it to “burn the Gurudwara and kill Sikhs,” but he retracted this and filed a second affidavit in August 2002 denying the first.

He reaffirmed this affidavit in April 2006 but then in an interview in December 2007,he claimed he had seen Tytler inciting the mob,a charge he repeated when he was examined in the US.

“The cases have been politically used and misused time and again. If one relies upon the statements of witnesses,their changing statements will be quoted to prove them unreliable. On the other hand,the other side will argue that accused persons are so influential that nobody can depose truthfully in India. Both important witnesses are presently in USA. If they are insisting on certain narration of facts,it will be difficult to ignore only by citing contradictions…Given the circumstances of these cases,it will not be appropriate to totally deny the present statements of Jasbir Singh and Surender Singh regarding the incident. It will be appropriate to finally leave the decision in the hands of trial court. Hence,I tend to go with the opinion of the DIG and recommend prosecution of Jagdish Tytler under Sections 147,149 and 109 IPC read with 302,295,427 and 436 IPC.”

CBI officials handling the case claim that faced with such “contradictory” advice,Director Ashwani Kumar sent the file to Sharma,the CBI’s Director of Prosecution (DoP). He,too,said that the evidence showing presence of the accused on the scene of crime was weak and the director then signed off the file disregarding the value of the testimonies recorded in the US.

Sharma,incidentally,is the bridge between the agency and the government and,as the series in The Indian Express will show,this isn’t the only case in which opinions of senior law officers have changed the direction of the probe.

When The Sunday Express contacted Jasbir Singh in San Francisco,he said he was shocked to learn about the CBI’s attempt to close the case. Although he said he was not given a copy of his statement,he said he had told CBI investigators how on November 3,1984,he had heard the Congress leader telling an assembled crowd near Teg Bahadur Hospital that,“I had assured you that you kill Sikhs and nothing will happen to you. I had given a promise to the Centre. Despite this,by killing least number of Sikhs you have lowered my prestige.”

“The CBI officers before whom I deposed told me nothing will come out of the case and I was wasting everyone’s time,” claimed Jasbir Singh. “I gave clear evidence against Tytler. Should my evidence be disregarded because of the inefficiency of the CBI?”

Says Gurpatwant Singh Pannu,the attorney who was present when the statements of Jasbir Singh and Surender Singh were recorded in San Francisco and New York respectively: “If the CBI wanted to strengthen their case they would have also recorded the statements of Resham Singh and Giani Chain Singh,both of whom were available and ready to give evidence in the same case and about whose presence I informed the CBI before the team landed here. But they were not interested and obviously only wanted to give a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler before the elections.”

CBI Director Ashwani Kumar did not respond to written questions on the case sent by The Sunday Express. In reply,the agency spokesman said that the newspaper “should not” discuss the Jagdish Tytler case since it was sub judice and that in view of the guidelines issued by the Election Commission,they could not reply to questions on cases which have “political overtones.”

(Tomorrow: Appeal against Sajjan Kumar hasn’t moved in seven years)

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