No One Killed Satish Shetty: Easy Bails Granted as CBI Keeps Mum
The two arrests made by the CBI in its six-year-long investigation have been granted bail, unopposed by the agency.
Last week, while granting bail to two formers cops arrested in connection with the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty in 2010, Additional Sessions Judge Vikas Kulkarni said, “I come to [the] conclusion that all the offences are bailable… and thus the applicants deserve bail.”
Former senior police inspector Bhausaheb Andhalkar and former assistant inspector Namdev Kauthale were charged under sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 193 (creating false evidence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 211 (false charge of offence made) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record) of the IPC. All these offences are indeed bailable and hence, by the power given to the courts through the CrPC, the bail is legally sound, as is expected by an honourable member of the judiciary.
However, the ongoing CBI investigation against them in the murder case has put these facts on the table till now:
- Andhalkar’s polygraph tests showed deception when asked about his involvement in the murder.
- Andhalkar and Kauthale created an entire back story to save the “real perpetrators” by incriminating and arresting innocent people – even planting a fake, bloody murder weapon.
- Andhalkar used a proxy sim to threaten Shetty on behalf of IRB for fraudulent land grabbing even though he was not related to the case.
- Existence of continuous call records between IRB officials and Andhalkar and Kauthale between filing of the FIR and Shetty’s death.
The Counter-Argument: A Legal Precedent, A Recent Example
Given how the two are police officers with a) considerable power and influence, b) strongly incriminating evidence against them connecting them to Satish Shetty’s murder, c) have a clear history of tampering with the course of justice, and d) are working to save the “real perpetrators” in the ongoing investigation as mentioned in the CBI chargesheet, a very strong case can be made to reject their bail, as in the landmark ruling in State of Rajasthan, Jaipur Vs Balchand at Bailey on 20 September 1977:
The basic rule is bail, not jail, except where there are circumstances suggestive of fleeing from justice or thwarting the course of justice or creating other troubles in the shape of repeating offences or intimidating witnesses and the like by the petitioner who seeks enlargement on bail from the court. When considering the question of bail, the gravity of the offence involved and the heinousness of the crime which are likely to induce the petitioner to avoid the course of justice must weigh with the court.
Seen in the light of the precedent above, the judgement is only a mechanical interpretation of the letter of the law, completely transgressing the spirit of it. As Karan Thapar notes, it is not enough to observe and follow the law, but it has to seen to be so.
In this case, even though the technicalities of the law allow for Andhalkar and Kauthale to not be charged under section 302 (act of committing murder), hence making their charge of section 120 (b) bailable, the point remains that their six-year-long glaring involvement in the events before and after the murder cannot be dismissed simply because circumstances allow a law to be used; the intention behind the law cannot be overlooked by only fulfilling its letter.
Interestingly, it is on the same grounds that the CBI opposed the bail of Rajendra Kumar, former principal secretary to CM Arvind Kejriwal, currently facing trial for corruption. The CBI said they believe the release of the accused “will create an intimidating atmosphere for the witnesses” and they could not afford any tampering at the “crucial stage” of investigation they were in.
The Curious Case of the CBI
On 20 June, the CBI opposed the bail pleas of the same two cops and a special CBI court in Pune rejected them. On 20 July, the CBI did not oppose the bail.
What changed in a month that the agency did not fight to keep the two arrests they have made in six years inside jail based on hard evidence they discovered, especially during their presently ongoing investigation in two separate but linked cases – Shetty’s murder and IRB’s alleged fraud?
This flip-flop by the CBI aligns with the many other contradictory moves the agency has made since the beginning of the investigation. That we have knowledge of a private meeting between IRB’s CMD Virendra Mhaisakar and former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, on record through a whistleblower, does not sit well with anyone who can put two and two together.
I knew when the chargesheet itself was filed that it was just another tactic of the CBI to save whoever they have been asked to save. If you are accused in a murder with five others, and two get arrested, won’t you apply for anticipatory bail? Anyone would. The other four accused have not even applied for it and it’s been more than three months. It’s because they know the chargesheet is just for show and nothing will happen to them. I know their ways by now. They want to wear me out, but I won’t. I’ll move the court again, as many times as I have to.Sandeep Shetty, brother of late Satish Shetty
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