Former Cop Pradeep Sharma Gets Supreme Court Relief In Lakkhan Bhaiyya Fake Encounter Case Appeal

Former Cop Pradeep Sharma Gets Supreme Court Relief In Lakkhan Bhaiyya Fake Encounter Case Appeal

The apex court said on Monday that he need not surrender until further hearing, which would be scheduled after four weeks.

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Tuesday, April 09, 2024, 10:34 AM IST
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Pradeep Sharma |

The former encounter specialist cop Pradeep Sharma got a breather from the apex court on Monday, in the matter of his surrendering to the court in the Lakkhan Bhaiyya fake encounter case. Admitting his appeal against his conviction on Monday, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Govemnment.

Sharma has challenged the verdict of the Bombay High Court convicting him and sentencing him to life imprisonment for his role in the said encounter case. The apex court said on Monday that he need not surrender until further hearing, which would be scheduled after four weeks.

On Monday, Sharma's lawyers senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, Subhash Jadhav and Siddharth Luthra contended that the presence of the appellant at the place of occurrence was not attested to by any of the witnesses. But Sharma entered the picture since theempty shell and the bulletthat killed the deceased, was attributed to his service revolver.

The prosecution, however, contended that Sharma was heading a police team against which serious allegations were made and though the trial court had acquitted him, the high court had held him guilty. The prosecution also pointed out the charges against Sharma that he was convicted for the formation of an illegal squad, abduction, wrongful confinement and the eventual killing.

Therefore, the prosecution said, bail for the appellant should not be lightly considered. The division bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, however, exempted Sharma from surrender to undergo the punishment awarded to him and issued notice to the prosecution to respond on his bail plea within four weeks.

In his appeal filed through his lawyer, Sharma has pleaded that the high court has, "without any cogent material, drawn a misplaced inference to attribute one of the fired bullets to be that of the Appellant and being fired from the service revolver of the Appellant (Sharma)". Besides, it said that the "High Court has proceeded with a biased mind as it has presumed sans any evidence that Anil Bheda (who was an eyewitness to the abduction and encounter of Sharma) was threatened by the family of the Appellant and the lawyers then appearing on his behalf during trial."

"Judgment of the High Court is mutually destructive and contradictory as at one point the Hon'ble High Court has extensively dealt with CDR and other secondary evidence to show that the Appellant was in DN Nagar area and was in regular touch with co-accused persons; however, at certain points, it has come to the conclusion that the Appellant herein was present with the raiding team. It cannot be fathomed that if the Appellant was part of the raiding team then where was the occasion for him to be in touch with the co-accused persons on phone calls at the time of the incident," Sharma said in his appeal, claiming that findings of the high court were contradictory.

The Bombay High Court had, on March 19, held Sharma guilty of the fake encounter and sentenced him to life imprisonment. It had asked Sharma to surrender within three weeks. On November 11, 2006, a police team picked up Ram Narayan Gupta alias Lakkhan Bhaiya, from neighbouring Vashi on suspicion of his being a member of the Rajan gang, along with his friend Anil Bheda, and had killed Gupta in a "fake" encounter near Nana Nani Park in Versova, that same evening.

According to the prosecution, Bheda was initially detained at DN Nagar police station in Versova, but was later shifted to Kolhapur. He was subsequently brought back to Mumbai and detained for about a month.

Soon thereafter, Ram Narayan's brother, advocate Ramprasad Gupta, moved the Bombay High Court, alleging that police had, in fact, murdered his brother. In February 2008, the high court ordered a magisterial inquiry, which had concluded that it was a cold-blooded murder. In September 2009, HC constituted a special investigation team to probe the case.

Pradeep Sharma had been arrested by the SIT on January 8, 2010, along with 21 others, for involvement in the fake encounter. According to investigators, Gupta was killed at the instance of a Navi Mumbai-based builder, Janardhan Bange alias Janya Sheth, who had got in touch with Sharma to have Gupta killed. On March 12, 2011, Bheda, the soleeyewitness, went missing from his house in Navi Mumbai; he was supposed to depose in court on March 18.

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