In Fallout of CBI Crisis, Godman Accused of Rape Softens Towards Agency

For those facing prosecution by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the churn within the organisation is a shot in the arm.

New Delhi: The crisis in the Central Bureau of Investigation triggered by the Narendra Modi government’s move to send its director and special director on leave must come as music to the ears of many accused facing investigation and prosecution by the CBI.

On Monday, self-styled godman, Daati Maharaj alias Madan Lal – facing prosecution for raping a young girl at his ashrams in Rajasthan and Delhi – had his petition challenging the judgment of the Delhi high court transferring his case from Delhi police’s special crime branch to the CBI, listed before a Supreme Court bench of Justice N.V.Ramana and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar. The high court had delivered its verdict on October 3, after it found merit in the apprehension of the rape survivor that there was an effort to protect the accused.

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The conflict within the CBI probably led to a change of legal strategy by the accused, who told the Supreme Court bench through his senior counsel, Mukul Rohatgi, that he was withdrawing his special leave petition against the Delhi high court’s judgment, as he wanted to avail the remedy of review before the high court first.

Whether or not he moves a review petition before the high court, his strategy, observers say, likely flows from a belief that a divided CBI at the highest level, and the resultant confusion, would be in his best interests.

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The Supreme Court gave the godman the liberty to move it again, in case any adverse order is passed on his review petition by the high court. That is, if the accused finds it necessary at all to seek the review remedy before the high court, as he might well decide not to, in view of the agency weakening itself as a result of the current struggle for supremacy among its senior officers.

Every accused is likely to exhaust all available legal remedies to avoid prosecution and conviction for an alleged offence, but if the investigation and prosecution agency emasculates itself, he could postpone the thought of seeking legal remedies to protect himself from an entity not perceived as potent enough.