Babri Masjid demolition case: A look at other high-profile CBI cases that did not stand up in court
The Babri Masjid demolition case isn’t the only one wherein the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been left red-faced by the courts over its probe—the agency hasn’t been able to cross the hurdle of judicial scrutiny in a number of other high-profile and politically sensitive cases.
Having earned the moniker of “caged parrot” from the country’s highest court, CBI often gets slammed for shoddy probes or weak prosecution tactics. The agency has a conviction rate of around 69% in its cases, but it is the high-profile cases where its work is often put to the test.
HT takes a look at some cases that got CBI a dressing down from the courts
1. 2G scam: In December 2017, special CBI judge OP Saini acquitted former telecom minister A Raja and corporate honchos Sanjay Chandra, Shahid Balwa and others in the case. Saini had remarked that CBI had lost interest in the trial and had failed to provide any evidence against the accused persons. The agency has challenged the judgement in Delhi high court, which recently ordered a fast-track trial.
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2. Aarushi-Hemraj murders: In October 2017, while acquitting Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the murders of their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj (which took place in May 2008), the Allahabad high court raised questions on the agency’s credibility and stated that the evidence was tampered with and a witness planted by agency. CBI’s appeal against the judgement is pending in the Supreme Court.
3. Coal scam: In May 2013, the Supreme Court questioned the credibility of the CBI probe in the case and called the agency a “caged parrot”, the harshest words ever used for the premier anti-corruption probe agency.
4. Haren Pandya murder: In August 2011, the Gujarat high court had acquitted all the 12 persons accused of killing former state home minister Haren Pandya (in 2003). In its judgement, the high court had sharply criticised the CBI for its “botched up” investigation. However, a Supreme Court bench headed by justice (now retired) Arun Mishra overturned the decision and convicted nine persons for the killing.
5. Bofors scam: In May 2005, the Delhi high court quashed all the charges against the three Hinduja brothers—SP Hinduja, GP Hinduja and PP Hinduja—and others in the case pertaining to the supply of 410 Bofors field Howitzer guns in 1980s, in which it was alleged that a Rs 64 crore bribe was involved. The CBI challenged the order in 2018. The Supreme Court dismissed agency’s plea to reopen the investigation citing the delay.