My conjecture is that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to file closure reports in all its high-profile pending cases by the end of 2011. If so, the investigative agency is off to a great start.
Less than a week into the New Year, the CBI has sought to close two cases that have hogged news headlines for years - the Aarushi Talwar murder case and the payoff case against Ottavio Quattrocchi, the only surviving accused in the Bofors case.
On December 29, 2010, the CBI filed its closure report on the Aarushi case in a Ghaziabad court, citing lack of conclusive evidence. Days later, media reports said a bottle containing traces of blood from the two victims, Aarushi Talwar and the domestic help, Hemraj, was found on Aarushi's father Rajesh Talwar's bar counter.
While the girl's parents berate the CBI for casting aspersions on them, and the agency's report claims the Talwars' relatives tried to influence the doctors conducting the postmortem on Aarushi's body, media reports say the three main suspects in the case - Dr Rajesh Talwar's lab assistant Krishna, and friend's domestic help Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal - are believed to have had alibis at the time of the murder.
One of the biggest murder mysteries of our time is being deemed not just unsolved, but unsolvable.
With the court due to decide on the case on Friday, Aarushi's friends and schoolmates have announced a protest march from Nirman Bhavan to India Gate on Thursday, insisting that the investigation should continue.
The CBI's stance on the case against Quattrocchi has stirred an even bigger row, with the ruling Congress and opposition BJP accusing each other of ineffectiveness.
On December 31, 2010, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal ruled that Italian businessman Quattrocchi and his associate (Late) Win Chadha had received a commission of Rs 41.2 crore in the Bofors gun deal in 1987.
While the BJP says the CBI's rejection of the tribunal's order can't be justified, and hints darkly at connections between Quattrocchi and the Nehru-Gandhi family, Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi retorts by asking why the BJP didn't 'do something' about the case when the party was in power.
The court is yet to announce its decision on the closure of the case, but its statement that the tribunal was a 'quasi-judicial forum' seems less than promising.
The CBI's contention that the tribunal's order contains 'nothing new' and therefore shouldn't be of account is nearly as ridiculous as its reason for seeking the court's permission to close the case in October 2010. The CBI wanted to close the case because the prosecution of Quattrocchi was 'unjustified' after the agency failed to extradite him from both Malaysia and Argentina, months after it had asked the Interpol to withdraw its Red Corner notice against the Italian businessman.
An agency that was once considered the last word on criminal cases seems to have become a pawn in the last few decades.
From the Bhopal gas tragedy to the Hawala scandal and the Nithari killings, the nation has cried foul after court trials ended in a farce.
Every year, we are promised a new India. And every year, we find ourselves wondering who will create it. Each Independence Day, we look back on the glory of winning back the right to rule ourselves. But how successful have we been at it?
When an agency founded to keep even the government in check decides to close cases in which the facts have been thrown open, what justice can citizens hope for?
And how reassuring is it that this is the agency investigating the 2G spectrum scandal and the conduct of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee?
As election time approaches, we spend more time debating the ills of each party in contention than the possibility of a positive outcome. Will someone grab my land? Will someone tamper with the quota system? Will someone set a murderer free? Will someone burn down a media outlet for publishing a survey? Will someone chop down trees to build flyovers?
Perhaps what we need is an investigative agency that reports to the judiciary instead of the legislative branch of the government.
More importantly, we need to think about reforming the legislative branch of the government by restructuring our minds. If all of us decide to cast our votes, instead of sighing about a rock and a hard place, over time, we can and will make a difference.
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