While refusing to grant bail to former police officer Pradeep Sharma in the Antilia bomb scare and Mansukh Hiran murder, the Bombay High Court on Monday expressed “anguish” over the manner in which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had probed the case.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and RN Laddha noted while the NIA has charged dismissed cop Sachin Waze with conspiring “with others” to plant gelatin sticks in an SUV outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence, “the names of the coconspirators are curiously not spelt out”.
In their 53-page order, the justices said, “We, prima facie, find that the NIA has not done an investigation with regard to the co-conspirators involved in planting of gelatin sticks in the vehicle.”
The court said the NIA had not done an “in-depth” investigation and several questions remain unanswered. “As noted above, Sachin Waze could not have done it by himself,” said the justices, adding, “We hope and trust the NIA, in right earnest, will investigate this aspect.”
The NIA charge sheet does not “prima facie” disclose that Mr Sharma was involved in the conspiracy of planting of gelatin sticks in the vehicle. The bench felt the NIA only made “a feeble attempt” to connect Mr Sharma with Mr Waze after the court questioned it on the conspiracy angle.
The court also referred to the statement of a witness, a cyber security expert, who said he received Rs 5 lakh from the then Police Commissioner to prepare a report that the Telegram channel ‘Jaish-ul-Hind’ – on which a post had appeared on Feb 27, 2021, claiming responsibility for the Antilia terror scare – had been resolved by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police and that the mobile number linked with the channel was found to have been used from within Tihar Jail.
The justices said: “Why was such a huge payment made to the witness? What was the interest of the [police chief] is a grey area for which there are no answers.”
The court, however, refused bail to Mr Sharma, saying there was enough evidence submitted by the NIA in the Hiran murder. “The possibility of the appellant, a retired police officer, having clout, tampering with witnesses, cannot be ruled out,” the justices said.
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