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CBI shouldn’t be a victim of politics in Sushant case: Singhvi

Rishabh Gulati

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In a wide-ranging interview on the order of the Supreme Court regarding investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, noted lawyer and senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi opens up on a host of issues. Excerpts:

Q: The biggest concern was the CBI inquiry, the CBI inquiry is going ahead, but the court also said they haven’t found any fault with the government investigation or the police investigation in Maharashtra. What do you make of the judgement?

A: Look Rishabh, I think we are all bowing down to the judgement of the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land. Whatever we say and we are entitled to criticise it, analyse it, but with respect. Because one side has lost or rather two sides have lost and some sides have won; there is no doubt about it. Now there are three errors. One of the errors is what you have pointed out. And it is important to understand that one error, although I would like to speak about the other two also later on when you want me to. That is this, the judges exercised the extraordinary power under 142 of the Article of the Constitution to transfer a case as High Court judge or a Supreme Court judge can do. But, those judgements which allow him to transfer say it should be done in exceptional cases, rarest of rare, sparingly. Now, astonishingly, no exceptional, sparingly, rarest of rare circumstance is cited here. It is not rarest of rare or exceptional to see that you are a great actor or that your family is very disturbed in Patna or the two states are not agreeing. There has to be something there and there is nothing. And on top of that is the finding which you said and it’s in para 30, it is an earlier para that there is apparently nothing wrong with the Mumbai investigation. The second commonsensical thing, it hurts your common sense that where crime is local and if you accept this principle, forget this case, everything happens—suicide, murder, hitting, absconding, kidnapping in Maharashtra in Mumbai. On the basis of a race to file an FIR, if Kerala files an FIR first, it cannot give jurisdiction to Kerala. Here, the second big fallacy is saying that look Mumbai Police is investigating, they are doing a comprehensive job, but they are doing it as an investigation to find out whether there is sufficient material to lodge an FIR against some people. So, no FIR is lodged. Bihar has lodged it first, therefore Bihar gets jurisdiction. Now if this principle is accepted and you go away from Sushant Singh Rajput’s case, it means that a police force which is trying to be punctilious to find out whether to register an FIR, in what direction, in what way, just because some other state races to file an FIR that doesn’t take away the power of 175, 174 which the judge has sited against Maharashtra—to say, it’s only investigation. Even if it is only an investigation, everything occurred in Maharashtra.

Q: What do you make of the charge? Very strongly worded charges that have been put by the Bihar government making very strong accusations against the Maharashtra Police of not conducting a fair investigation.

A: Well, I think I should not bother as far as Bihar Police or other people are concerned. Everybody, as I said everybody, every commentator, every person on the street, every policeman, every lawyer, every media person has become an expert on this subject and we’ve been hearing about this. What matters is what the Supreme Court has held. What you’ve just said obviously the Supreme Court will not accept it because you rightly pointed out that there is nothing wrong with the police investigation. All kinds of inter-personal allegations were made. Suppose I wrongly quarantine you, suppose BMC wrongly quarantined you, suppose a law a rule was violated, it will not give Bihar jurisdiction because somebody has been wrongly quarantined. So, it is not a “tu-tu”, “mai-mai” game which creates a jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is not based on clutching at straws. Because on these straws, you will have the crime committed, as I said, in Kerala and some straw in Jammu and Kashmir will give the police jurisdiction.

Q: The investigation so far which has not been done by the CBI has been done by the ED; they haven’t found the money so far. When the CBI does come in, does this case then become a serious one because the charges being made are there are potentially politicians involved, and it is not about one death, it is about two deaths?

A: I would be very hesitant unlike a lot of the people you have been seeing since the last two weeks to get into this factual meritbased debate. I do believe that every person I meet is a judge, jury, executioner, prosecutor, persecutor, everything, all rolled into one. They are all giving verdicts. There is a very credible view which I can only say that there is absolutely nothing which connects any political class in Maharashtra to the case. But it is a happy hunting ground for the media. So, everyone can have an opinion; it’s a free country. Equally there is nothing today to show whether it is a suicide or a murder that the police would have decided, now the CBI will decide. One view is it’s a suicide; another view is it’s a murder.

 Q: One can sympathise an anguished family, but sir, it’s not just an anguished family, it’s the government of Bihar, its political leaders, it’s the Bihar police that’s not an anguished family. They are making very serious charges.

 A: I think there is no doubt in my mind that things have got bent, distorted, angularised because of politics. You see nobody is detracting from the deep anguish of the family in Bihar. There is no question of not commiserating with that very deep anguish. But that does not change jurisdiction. See, even you as a victim and I as a murderer cannot agree amongst each other or the perpetrator to create jurisdiction and choose our constituency. Suppose we both consent that I hit you and we both don’t like police X, we both consent to file a FIR in police Y, that’s not permissible. So now the court has decided and we are bound by it and ultimately the CBI, I hope, will put a quietus and not allow politics because the biggest danger is that the CBI should not be a victim of politics, also that’s my only concern.

Q: Dr Singhvi, the suspicion that many people are feeling and this has become a matter of public interest and in politics public interest matters, is that the very failure of Mumbai Police to file an FIR and investigate other aspects of this case is suspicious.

A: Mumbai Police I think if at all is guilty of over-meticulousness. I’ve seen the papers and that is why you have that sentence. Remember, a sealed cover was handed over to a judge which is a full case diary which you and I can’t see; I can see as the counsel, but normal people cannot see. The judge has seen it. And then he has recorded that sentence. Why? I do hold the Maharashtra police guilty of over-meticulousness, actually having seen the case diary because what they were doing was they were meticulously asking, they went to three psychologists, two doctors, five other people; then the allegations of Bollywood, so they went to too many people and they were in the process of making up their mind should there be an FIR, is it a foul play, is it a suicide, because a mere suicide without abetment would not be result in FIR. Now, they may have taken longer for that. I think that with greatest respect is an error of the judgement, to have treated that length of time and interpreted articles Sections 174 and 175 in a narrow way. So not filing an FIR will not give jurisdiction to Bihar who filed it first.

Q: What do we do when there is such mistrust now amongst the common public? Mistrust of Bollywood which would be Bollywood’s problem, but mistrust of government and police and investigating agencies?

A: a) Less sensationalism b) give it a quietus. The Supreme Court is, as they say, right because it is final, it need not be final, because it is right. Now we have a path, let CBI take it up, let CBI do a good job and to the extent possible, restore that trust. It is as simple as that. Here everybody keeps meddling; now tomorrow you might have people attacking the CBI without any evidence. The elections are around the corner, we know it, the CBI becomes a victim of political pressure; then it will spoil its copybook image completely and people will start asking what happened. So, I think everybody has to go by the law now. Now that the judgement has come, let us go by the law.

Q: Dr Singhvi, we know in criminal cases and if it boils down to other than money in the end somebody is dead, the evidence that is recorded in the first day or two, from the crime scene becomes so important and we’ve seen so many cases that evidence either gets compromised or the chain of custody gets compromised and then the case goes nowhere. Now, this also is causing a lot of distress to people being so long and that evidence could be compromised.

 A: Hopefully and happily mostly no, maybe little bit yes. Why I say it is fortunately, though an FIR is not filed, all the evidence is in control with the Mumbai police which they are now obliged to hand over to the CBI. So, whatever evidence is there in terms of statements, photographs, exhibits is there. It’ll only go to a different agency. Not, nonexistent. And it will not be extinguished because it is now in the police control or it’ll be in the CBI control. What is important, however, is that important questions are answered quickly by the CBI which the Mumbai police would have answered in a few days, I have no doubt. And one of them is obviously how and in what context could a family pull down a person hanging and put him down flat. It is just not done. You and I can’t just go and pull down a body and make it sleep comfortably in a suicide case even. So, these are questions that have to be gone into.

Q: Where does this go from here? Is there any legal ground because the Supreme Court judgement also says that FIR does get lodged in Maharashtra, the CBI can investigate that part of the case as well. So is there any legal ground for intervention by the Maharashtra government?

A: The Maharashtra government has full jurisdiction, option, consideration regarding a review petition. Today, I am not in a position in the immediate aftermath of the judgement to say if that’ll be taken, somebody will decide and certainly within the time given of 30 days, they can file a review petition. As the law stands today, clearly only the CBI alone can investigate. If material comes to Mumbai police, they will look into it and hand it over to the CBI, as of today.

Q: I know you can’t reveal details because it is privileged information, but you have done many cases like this, many high profile ones, have you found something troubling, something dubious in the investigation that as a counsel representing Maharashtra you were worried about?

 A: You can discount the fact that I’m a counsel, you can discount the fact that on some issues based on federal structure, our arguments have not been accepted, but I can tell you as objectively as possible and that is now a finding by the court that there is nothing deviant, startling, distorted or something unheard of which I have seen in a case diary or in the sequence of events. It is possible that somebody would have wrapped it up in two weeks; then people would have said it is too quick, too fast, too superficial. Somebody took longer, FIR was not filed. But even the court accepts that there is nothing wrong.

Q: Name dropping of politicians, of Aaditya Thackeray, is it all politics?

A: I have no doubt that this is the worst thing that can happen in any case. I have no hesitation in saying this kind of complete irresponsible politicking in a case is the worst thing. Right through the case, I never said a word of it. Media is largely also responsible. Everybody became a judge, jury, executioner, opinion maker. You are convicting every day, you are acquitting every day, is this the way? You say in jury trials people are more affected, what about this country? It is a free for all, it is jungle raj. Now forget this case, think about a normal case: You don’t protect the law, the law will not protect you next time. People are human beings, they get influenced and pressurised. You should never allow this and ultimately the responsibility is of the media. You can have a sober discussion, this is the law, it is a sub-judice matter and the judge should decide. I have no hesitation in saying that there were groups and classes who were out to make an opinion for the judge and virtually write a draft judgement for the judge in the media.

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Typhoon Talas smashes Japan, leaving thousands without water, electricity, two killed

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Thousands of people in central Japan were without running water and electricity on Sunday after Typhoon Talas dumped record rainfall on the area, causing floods and landslides and leaving at least two people dead.

According to the AFP’s published report, the body of a man in Kakegawa city, Shizuoka region, was pulled from what remained of his house on Saturday after a landslide destroyed it.

“Another male (in neighbouring Fukuroi city) was driving to his home (Saturday) when the water level rose and his vehicle apparently stopped. While the individual tried to walk home, he was believed to have died,” a regional disaster management official said.

He stated that another man was still unaccounted for in Kawanehoncho town, Shizuoka, after his car slid into a gap that appeared in the road. He also mentioned that three other people received minor wounds.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Typhoon Talas battered central Japan on Friday and Saturday as it passed by close off the Pacific coast, pouring more than 40 centimetres (16 inches) of rain in Shizuoka villages in a single day.

Before heading back out to the Pacific on Saturday morning, it was downgraded to a depression.

Up to 120,000 homes may have lost power on Saturday as a result of the storm’s heavy rains causing landslides, including in the isolated mountains of Shizuoka. This is because several electricity pylons fell and broke as a result.

According to the local firm Chubu Electric Power, 2,910 homes in Shizuoka and the neighbouring Gifu region were still without electricity as of Sunday afternoon.

“As for those areas where restoration crews are not able to reach due to blocked roads after landslides, we will make progress while analysing the conditions of the landslides,” the utility said.

Debris choked a water inlet in Shizuoka, leaving almost 55,000 homes without running water.

“Currently, we are working to remove debris from a water inlet. But for now we are unable to give any estimate as to when it can be restored,” the regional government said in a statement Sunday morning.

Typhoons regularly cause significant damage to Japan in the summer and fall.

Typhoon Nanmadol struck southwestern Japan this weekend, leaving 147 people injured and four dead.

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Neeraj Bawana gang’s sharpshooter detained in Delhi

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Neeraj Bhawana gang

A team from the Crime Branch detained a sharpshooter and a member of the Neeraj Bawana gang on Thursday in Delhi’s Dwarka neighbourhood.

Praveen, a resident of Baghpat in the state of Uttar Pradesh, was identified as the accused. In addition, the authorities seized a revolver and two live cartridges from his possession.

He was involved in more than 10 crimes, and in 2020, the court granted him parole in a robbery case. He violated his parole nevertheless and started committing crimes again. He participated actively in the Neeraj Bawana gang. The accused were seeking a chance to exact revenge on Ashok Pardhan and his group on the orders of Neeraj Bawana, who is detained at Tihar Jail.

The Crime Branch recently detained two Ashok Pardhan gang members: Rohit alias Lamba and Gaurav alias Love Sharma alias Sandeep alias Masalewala.

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Jaishankar chides Pakistan and China in his address to the UNGA

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External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar.

Jaishankar, Minister of external affairs, sent a stern message to China on Friday regarding its opposition to the UN’s blacklisting of terrorists, stating those who politicise the UNSC 1267 Sanctions system in order to safeguard declared terrorists do so at their own peril.

Jaishankar made reference to Pakistan without naming it and stated that “no speech, however sanctimonious, can ever cover-up blood stains.”

“The United Nations responds to terrorism by sanctioning its perpetrators. Those who politicise the UNSC 1267 Sanctions regime, sometimes to the extent of defending proclaimed terrorists, do so at their own peril. Believe me, they advance neither their own interests nor indeed their reputation,” Jaishankar said at the United Nations General Assembly without naming China.

Sanctions are outlined in Resolution 1267 against people and organisations who enable or fund ISIL, Al-Qaida, or any affiliated terrorist organization’s deeds.

Jaishankar extended an invitation to all UN members to attend the Counter-Terrorism Committee meetings in Mumbai and New Delhi.

Additionally, he stated that India must develop a global architecture in response to the new technological instruments being used against pluralistic, open, and diverse civilizations.

“Having borne the brunt of cross-border terrorism for decades, India firmly advocates a “zero-tolerance” approach. In our view, there is no justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivation. And no rhetoric, however sanctimonious, can ever cover up blood stains,” Jaishankar said at the UNGA.

The External Affairs Minister stated during the meeting that the UN members supported the Security Council reforms. He added that because the current architecture is acknowledged to be outdated and ineffectual, UN members favour the overhaul.

According to Jaishankar, the justice of the developing world is “decisively addressed.”

“It is also perceived as deeply unfair, denying entire continents and regions a voice in a forum that deliberates their future. India is prepared to take up greater responsibilities. But it seeks at the same time to ensure that the injustice faced by the Global South is decisively addressed,” Jaishankar said.

“Our call is to allow serious negotiations on such a critical matter to proceed sincerely. They must not be blocked by procedural tactics. Naysayers cannot hold the IGN process hostage in perpetuity. In these turbulent times, it is essential that the world listens to more voices of reason. and experiences more acts of goodwill. India is willing and able on both counts. We believe and advocate that this is not an era of war and conflict. On the contrary, it is a time for development and cooperation,” he added.

On September 16, China blocked a resolution that the US and India had sponsored at the UN to name Sajid Mir of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as a “global terrorist.”

He is the most wanted terrorist in India and took part in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The US proposed that India blacklist Mir as a foreign terrorist under the 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.

After Abdul Rehman Makki, a leader of the LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and Abdul Rauf Azhar, the brother of Jaish-e Mohammed (JEM) founder Masood Azhar, were given protection by Beijing, China has now thwarted an India-US request three times in recent months.

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Top opposition leaders gather at INLD rally to challenge ‘Delhi Sultanate’

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Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, Sitaram Yechury, and Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, were among the prominent opposition figures that attended the INLD’s large gathering on Sunday in Fatehabad, Haryana.

JDU leader KC Tyagi addressed the crowd and claimed that the Bihar CM has come from Patna to challenge the Delhi Sultanate at a time when eight former Congress CMs had switched to the BJP. He claimed that Kumar has no fear of the ED, the income tax, or any other organisations.

To commemorate the birth anniversary of Devi Lal, the founder of the INLD and a former deputy prime minister, a rally is being conducted.

Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and the head of the RJD, as well as Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena, also showed up at the gathering to demonstrate the unity of the opposition.

The coming together of so many regional satraps is seen as part of efforts to forge opposition unity. Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad are likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi after the rally to take the process forward.

Veteran socialist leader Tyagi had already declared that the gathering would be historic because it would unite like-minded forces against the BJP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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‘Resort bulldozed to erase evidence?’: U’khand girl’s family

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The family of Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old Uttarakhand receptionist, refused to cremate her body on Sunday, questioning the postmortem report and the government’s overnight action of bulldozing portions of the resort owned by the prime suspect, Pulkit Arya, the son of now-expelled BJP leader Vinod Arya. They claimed that this may have destroyed the evidence at the crime scene.

Ankita Bhandari allegedly rejected attempts by Pulkit Arya and two others to force her into prostitution, and as a result, she was killed. The woman’s body,  who was reported missing on September 18, was found in Rishikesh’s Chilla canal on Saturday.

Her brother Ajay Singh Bhandari questioned the resort’s bulldozer activity, speculating that it might be an attempt to destroy evidence.

In the late evening on Friday in Pauri Garhwal, the district administration used a bulldozer to demolish the suspected unlawful construction of the Vanantara resort in Ganga Bhogpur Talla. The building was later set on fire and had its glass windows broken by a group of angry local residents on Saturday.

“I am not satisfied with the provisional postmortem report. Her last rites will not be performed until we get the final detailed report,” said Ankita’s father Virendra Singh Bhandari.

The woman’s funeral was slated to take place on Sunday morning. At the Srinagar Medical College, her body is on display. The family has also urged that the accused be given a speedy trial and executed.

According to the preliminary autopsy report, she had suffered blunt force injuries and drowned to death. Ante-mortem injuries were found on the body, according to the autopsy, which was performed by a team of four doctors from the department of forensic medicine and toxicology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh.

“We are making efforts to persuade the family. They have some concerns about the post-mortem report. We are taking every step possible to support the family. However, some things like post-mortem are beyond our control,” said Pauri additional superintendent of police (ASP), Shekhar Chandra Suyal.

According to officials, the final post-mortem report is expected to be released on Monday.

The government’s bulldozer action to destroy the resort has also drawn criticism from the state unit of the Congress party.

Is the government destroying the evidence by ordering the bulldozer action at the resort? Police failed to secure the custody of the accused. The Dhami government’s intention is not pure,” said party’s state chief, Karan Mahara

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6 officials charged for murder of the Air Force trainee Cadat, found hanging in Bengalore campus

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Air force trainee Cadat

A cadet trainee hanged himself on campus at the Air Force Technical College (AFTC) at Jalahalli, Bengaluru, on Wednesday, leading to the accusation of murder and up to six Air Force officers charged.

Ankit Kumar Jha, the cadet trainee, also wrote a note before his death in which he claimed that he had been harassed at the training facility.

According to DCP North, Vinayak Patil, “Cadet Trainee Ankit Kumar Jha from Air Force Technical College (AFTC) in Jalahalli was found dead on the campus on September 21.”

The deceased’s brother, Aman, filed a complaint at the Gangammagudi police station, claiming that the six officers were responsible for his brother’s murder.

The plaintiff claimed that he had been harassed during training by six officers: Cmde Sameer Khalode, Gp Capt GUM Rao, Gp Capt V Badrinath, Wing Cdr SS Huddar, Wing Cdr Ankit Sharma, and UTFO Tahira Rehman.

On the day he was discovered dead on campus, the victim’s employment with the institution was terminated. He then went missing, and his body was eventually discovered hanging from the camp.

A post-mortem has been requested for the body. For further inquiry, police are awaiting the results of the post-mortem.

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