Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CBI and importance of approvers

Former cop, N K Amin has decided to turn approver in the Sohrabudin fake encounter case. The Central Bureau of Investigation which has decided to use Amin to dig out more information against Amith Shah, the former Minister of State for Home, Gujarat is also facing a lot of flak by the opposition which terms it as a Congress Bachao Agency.

How important would an approver be in this case and also is the CBI really as independent as it is made out to be are two questions that come up for perusal at this point of time. R Shrikumar, who was an officer in the Central Bureau of Investigation which cracked the Rajiv Gandhi murder case and C V Nagesh, senior advocate who has battled the CBI in the court in the Classik Computer case involving former Chief Minister of Karnataka, S Bangarappa speak with rediff.com about this issue.

Before getting into the discussion let us see the provision under the Code of Criminal Procedure which deals with the issue of an approver.

Sections.306 to 308 of the Cr.P.C deals with the subject of approver:

Who is an Approver: An approver is an accomplice who has been tendered pardon on condition of his true disclosure of the facts & circumstances of the crime by becoming a witness on behalf of the prosecution. An accomplice is a person who is either directly or indirectly supposed to have been concerned in an offence or privy to an offence.

R Shrikumar on approvers : For the investigating agency and the prosecution, an approver’s evidence is good evidence. He is basically the person who gives a good description of the happenings in relation with the case.The investigating agency acts very much in its purview while coaxing a person to turn approver in a case. A person could turn approver either on his own or if the investigating agency coaxes him to do so. However the sole discretion to take this step would lie with him.

The statements of an approver would have to be coupled with evidence and that would be the job of the investigating agency to find out.

When a person turns an approver, he buys his freedom. He basically admits to his offence and that would earn him his freedom or lesser punishment than what is stipulated for the crime that was committed by him. However the approver must ensure that he is speaking the truth and at no point of time misguides the investigating agency or tells lies. If he has done something to this effect then he runs the risk of getting enhanced punishment by the court.

C V Nagesh on approver: For me this is a failure on the part of the investigating agency. It is of no consequence what so ever. I would not agree with the fact that an approver buys his freedom when deciding to turn into one. His pardon would be the sole discretion of the court and if the court finds that his offence is grave, then there is no hard and fast rule that his sentence should be reduced or he should be spared. Following the commission of an offence, the investigating agency does have the right to tell a person to turn approver. It is for them to collect as much material as possible and corroborate the same so that the statements have evidentiary value. However one must bear in mind that the investigating agency does not have the right to seek pardon for an accused

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