Suspended police officer Sachin Vaze (R)
Suspended police officer Sachin Vaze (R)

Telling the court he had something to say, suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze declared, “I am a scapegoat in this. I have nothing to do in the crime.” He was produced before the court after his 12-day custody with the NIA ended on Thursday

He added that he was an investigating officer in the (Antilia bomb scare) case for one-and-a-half days and whatever he did had been in that capacity and that not only him, crime branch officers had also investigated similarly. “Suddenly some changes happened somewhere. On 13th (March) I went to the NIA office on my own and came to be arrested,” he said.

Vaze further told the court that it was being said that he had admitted (to the crime), but that he wanted to tell the court that he had not made any such admission. He said he was co-operating with the probe. Vaze further said that he wanted to put the background on record. At this point, the court asked him to consult his advocate. He then said he would give his submissions in writing as per legal advice.

The NIA on Thursday sought 15 days’ custody of Vaze, telling the court that it had, during investigation, found 62 unaccounted live bullets during a search of his house. Further, of the 30 bullets officially assigned to him, 25 were missing. The agency said it had to find where the missing bullets were, as an officer had to account for every bullet he was assigned and it had also to find why such a huge number of bullets were kept in his house.

It also said that seven to eight DVRs had been destroyed by Vaze and voluminous CDRs and IPDRs (Internet Protocol Data Records) have been collected, and that the agency had 1.2TB of data he had to be confronted with.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the NIA, further said, “This is the most shocking case, not only in the city or the state, but the entire country. Everybody is shocked to find that a police officer is involved in the planting of explosives and he was himself investigating the case,” said Singh. He asked why were the gelatin sticks placed in a car in a public place, was it for the celebration of a function?

The NIA also told the court that it was only a day before that it had taken custody of two accused and documents in a connected offence of the Mansukh Hiran murder and needs to probe it. Since it had invoked the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, it said it was entitled to 30 days of police custody of Vaze.

Appearing for Vaze, Advocate Abad Ponda argued that the UAPA was not applicable against Vaze and said gelatin sticks were not covered under the law. He said gelatin sticks without a detonator could not cause any destruction of property or person and could be handled without protection, as they could not detonate by themselves. Ponda also argued that a terrorist act like the UAPA can be applied only when an act could threaten the integrity, sovereignty of the country or a section of society or a public functionary, not an individual, as in this case. “To be a public functionary, the person has to find mention in the gazette and UAPA cannot be applied only because the person concerned is a famous person,” he argued. He further said, citing a murder case, the NIA could not seek Vaze’s further custody under the UAPA as it was not a scheduled offence covered under the Act. The court remanded Vaze in the NIA’s custody till April 3.

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