An index of incompetence

One of the issues that the Binayak Sen trial has revealed is the quality of the investigative process in the case and the nonchalance with which the police has flouted even routine guidelines, safeguards and rules.

In a series of “reaction interviews” I did after the verdict came out, Ajai Sahni called the investigative process  “an index of the incompetence of the Chhattisgarh police.”

But, as an editorial in the The Hindu notes, an

“email referring to an occupant of the White House as a “chimpanzee” was introduced by the prosecutor as evidence of the kind of “code language” terrorists resort to. But tragically, it is the Chhattisgarh police that have had the last laugh in this round.”

Yet, perusing through the witness statements and the judgement, we get a rare insight into  how the police actually functions.  In my last post, I had written about how the defence believes that a vital piece of evidence was actually planted among the documents allegedly recovered from Binayak Sen’s house.

In a piece published in today’s Hindu (yes I know I keep plugging my own stuff – but I’m a Mainstream Media Type yaar, we have no shame :),  I try to figure out the events leading up to the arrest of co-accused Pijush Guha.

“Despite holding Mr. Guha in prison for nearly four years and producing 97 witnesses, the Chhattisgarh police have been unable to explain how Mr. Guha was arrested, how he got hold of the letters written by Mr. Sanyal, and how they relied on Mr. Anil Singh’s testimony that he heard Mr. Guha tell the police that Dr. Sen gave him the letters.

Mr. Guha testified that he was picked up by the police on May 1, 2007 from the Mahindra hotel, blindfolded, illegally detained and interrogated for five days before his arrest was staged on the station road on May 6, 2007.

Defence maintains that all evidence was planted by the police. Mr. Anil Kumar Singh, an eyewitness, whose testimony was crucial for the prosecution, said he was not present at the moment of Mr. Guha’s arrest but arrived soon after.

Mr. Guha’s lawyers have produced a railway ticket in his name and dated May 2 2007, to show that he intended returning home but was picked up by the police. The police also produced a ticket, dated May 6, 2007, to support their claim. “It is correct to say that the seized ticket bore Pijush Guha’s name,” Mr. Jagrit testified. However, the seized ticket is an unreserved one.

In the same piece, Investigating Officer Rajpoot makes a contradictory statement in the Supreme Court of this country and then dismisses it as a “Typing Error”.

Incorrect petition

In a special leave petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court on November 23, 2009, investigating officer S.S. Rajpoot said Mr. Guha was arrested at Hotel Mahindra, not at the railway station as claimed earlier. Questioned about this discrepancy, Mr. Rajpoot said he had made a typing mistake in his written submission to the highest court, an explanation Mr. Verma accepted in his judgment.

To get a broader sense of the “weak links” in the judgement, read Supriya Sharma and Manoj Mitta’s piece in this morning’s TOI.

As always, do keep sending us links that you feel are useful. A big thank-you to Anant M. for posting the link to the Hindi order.

3 thoughts on “An index of incompetence”

  1. I must agree that in our country handing over letters is a very treasonable activity and of course such activities should be punished by life imprisonments. But if that is the threshold & tolerance our society has for crimes, how many life imprisonments should be given to the likes of A.Raja or the Chavans or Yedurappas and their families and all other sundry politicians who have looted this country. Or is looting crores of rupees a lesser crime than handing over 3 letters to whichever dubious character it is alleged these letters were written to!!! What a democratic tradition we have built up!!



  2. The unreserved ticket obviously booked by the Chattisgarh Police .. would be interesting to know when it was booked .. & the content of the planted letters too ..


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