BJP President Amit Shah at the party's state executive meeting in Delhi. (PTI Photo)
When a Mumbai court said there was no evidence to merit the trial of BJP president Amit Shah on murder charges, a major lapse, according to critics, was that the investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI, argued only for 45 minutes to make its case.
"Is it?" was the response of the CBI director Anil Sinha today, when reporters asked him about the pithy arguments.
Defence lawyers, on the other hand, had spent two days making their case before the judge for Mr Shah, to be exempted from three murder charges. "How do you know the written submissions weren't strong enough? It was very lengthy so please go through that," said a CBI official who did not want to be named.
The judge on Wednesday found there was no evidence that when Mr Shah was Home Minister of Gujarat, he ordered the state police to carry out the extrajudicial killings of a gangster -Sohrabuddin Sheikh - and his wife and his friend almost a decade ago.
The CBI says that Mr Sheikh was extorting money from marble traders in neighbouring Rajasthan and that the powerful lobby approached Mr Shah for help. Given his position as the top law-and-order officer in Gujarat, Mr Shah, according to the CBI, authorized the police to eliminate the gangster.
Mr Sheikh was removed by police officers from a bus with his wife in 2005. He was killed in a staged gun battle and his wife's cremated body was later found in a village in Gujarat, the CBI said in its chargesheet against Mr Shah.
Mr Shah was jailed for three months in Gujarat in 2010 before getting bail from the Supreme Court.
The CBI has so far refused to reveal whether it will appeal against the verdict for Mr Shah.
CBI chief Anil Sinha said the order has been received by him today and that he will not comment on "the quality of the investigation" till he has gone through the judgement.