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Suleman Bakery-accused Tyagi gets bail
By MH Lakdawala

Mumbai: The granting of bail to former police commissioner RD Tyagi proves beyond doubt that state government is not serious in implementing Srikrishna commission report or punishing those indicted by the Commission.

The ex-police commissioner was granted bail mainly on the grounds of parity: since his co-accused are out on bail, why not he? Since those who went inside Suleman Bakery and actually fired spent not an hour in custody, while the man who claims to have waited outside had to surrender? The defense argued. But the state did not put its case strongly to counter this argument.

The simple reason is that the Maharashtra state did not want them inside either. In the normal course of things, Tyagi,and 16 co accused, should have been arrested as soon as the FIR was filed u/sec 302 and 34 IPC on May 25.

How serious was the State government and STF can be gauged by the fact that they did not appealed against the bail granted to Tyagi’s 16 co-accused. During the hearing of Tyagi's bail plea Judge Thipsay repeatedly asked the special public prosecutor (PP) whether the State had appealed against the bail granted to his co-accused.

In his order too, he pointed out that the granting of bail to them did not aggrieve the state. How could it be aggrieved when it had not opposed even their anticipatory bail application? The order makes it obvious. The order granting them anticipatory bail clearly states that the investigating agency, i.e., the Special Task Force (STF), did not even press for custodial interrogation. "The very fact that the investigating agency did not find it necessary to take them into custody indicates that there is no apprehension of the applicants tampering with the evidence or absconding..."

In his brilliant arguments opposing Tyagi's anticipatory bail application in the high court, Special Public Prosecutor P R Vakil had declared that thanks to the cover-up by Tyagi and his department, there was no evidence left to tamper with.

He had pointed out the complete lack of evidence to support the version put forward by Tyagi and his Special Operations Squad (SOS). He had even displayed the kind of arms with which the alleged terrorists were supposed to have escaped while surrounded by the STF, to show how absurd this claim was.

All these arguments applied equally to Tyagi's co-accused. There was no question then of greater responsibility or lesser. Why then weren't the same arguments made in the anticipatory bail application of the co-accused? Because Home Minister Chagan Bhujbal and Police Commissioner M N Singh didn't want them to lose their jobs and then be left with a sullen police force to deal with?

Vakil had concluded his high court arguments by pointing out that there was enough evidence to necessitate custodial interrogation of Tyagi. He had to be asked what happened to the victims' clothes and the bullets embedded in two bodies. Normally, murder accused are interrogated in custody. If this accused is dealt with separately, it would be an injustice, he had said.

Despite this, the STF chose, just a few hours before Justice A B Palkar was to pass his order, to finish off Tyagi's interrogation in their office.

Special Public Prosecutor Vakil has been an unenviable task. How can any PP forcefully oppose anticipatory bail or bail when his client doesn't want the accused in custody? If Vakil fought with all his might against Tyagi's anticipatory bail application, it was because public pressure forced the government to let him do so.

Even while hearing in magistrate's court. STF fails to produce Tyagi. Reprimanded by magistrate for making no written application. Tyagi's counsel insists that shifting Tyagi either to Arthur Road Jail or J J Hospital will be life-threatening. Though there's no medical report saying this, PP keeps silent. He does not ask court to order medical examination of Tyagi by panel of government doctors.

Thus apparently state government projects itself as implementing the Srikrishna Commission report and committed to bring to justice those indicted by the Commission. But its deeds convey the fact that it is only interested in scoring political points even at the cost of Justice.

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