According to media reports the decision to appoint Mr. Amit Shah as the next President of the BJP has been all but finalized. The official announcement expected in a few days is to be a mere formality. Senior BJP leaders Mr. LK Advani and Mrs. Sushma Swaraj had expressed reservations about Mr. Shah’s appointment until the murder cases in which he is accused are satisfactorily disposed of.
It may be recalled that earlier Mr. 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 BJP consider that Mr. 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 Mr. Shah may be proved innocent. It is true that according to the Gujarat government fake encounters involving three murders had taken place while Mr. Shah was Minister of State Home Affairs in the Gujarat government. 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 Mr. Shah was aware of their actions he would under law be deemed guilty. It is true that during the relevant period when the murders were committed Mr. Shah had spoken 331 times over telephone with the guilty police officers who are in jail. It is true that a senor Gujarat police officer had doctored the recorded conversations between Mr. Shah and the police officers to delete Mr. Shah’s part of the conversation. It is true that the officer concerned was indicted for which reason the Supreme Court imposed curbs on Mr. Shah’s movements during bail. It is true that Mr. Shah has already served some time in prison related to that case and continues to be on bail. However new circumstances suggest that Mr. Shah may in fact be proved innocent.
It now transpires that former Solicitor General Mr. 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 Mr. Venkatachaliah has pointed out specifically how the government’s action in striking off Mr. Subramaniam’s name from the list of Supreme Court Judges proposed by the collegium violated procedure. But as BJP sympathizers may well argue, should not minor procedural violations be overlooked in order to hasten the advent of “achhe din”? Mr. 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 Mr. Shah and had him arrested. But BJP sympathizers may well argue that if Mr. 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 JT Utpat, who denied Mr. Shah permission to avoid appearance in court due to repeated excuses, has been transferred. Was Mr. 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 Mr. Mukul Rohtagi, Mr. Ranjit Kumar and Mr. Tushar Mehta. All three have been appointed as the top law officers in Mr. Modi’s government. Mr. Rohtagi is the new Attorney General, Mr. Ranjit Singh is Solicitor General; and Mr. Tushar Mehta is the Additional Solicitor General.
From all this does it not appear that in the past the judicial system erred and Mr. Amit Shah was wrongly accused? Now there is every chance that errors of the past will be corrected. Mr. Shah could be the new BJP President because he was innocent. It is only cynics who might say that Mr. Shah could be innocent because he will be the new BJP President.