Mansukh Hiran murder case: Lawyer tells Bombay HC 'ex-cop Pradeep Sharma met Sachin Vaze over extortion money sought by Anil Deskmukh'

The argument was made before the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a bail plea filed by Sharma. He has approached the HC, challenging the special court order rejecting his bail in February 2022.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Wednesday, August 24, 2022, 08:41 PM IST
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Retired encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma | PTI

Retired encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, who is in custody for his alleged role in businessman Mansukh Hiran's murder case, has contended that he met dismissed cop Sachin Vaze at Malabar Hill police station since the latter said that he was under tremendous pressure from the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to collect extortion money or be dismissed from service.

The argument was made before the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a bail plea filed by Sharma. He has approached the HC, challenging the special court order rejecting his bail in February 2022.

While Sharma is arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged role in the Hiran murder case, Vaze, a former assistant police inspector, was dismissed after his arrest for alleged involvement in the Antilia bomb scare and Hiran murder case of 2021.

The NIA case is that on February 28, 2021, after 8 p.m., Sharma went to Malabar Hill police station and met Vaze, and from there they went to Worli, where the entire conspiracy was hatched to eliminate Hiran.

During the arguments in the bail hearing on Tuesday before a division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Sharmila Deshmukh, Sharma’s advocate, Aabad Ponda, claimed that the meeting was not to hatch any conspiracy but was because Vaze was under tremendous pressure from Deshmukh to collect the extortion money that he had sought help from Sharma.

Sharma is not connected with the Antilia case. He went to meet Vaze as the latter sought his help since he (Sharma) had been in service for a long time, and it would help if Sharma could impress the then minister, said Ponda.

Ponda even said that they had gone to meet then police commissioner Parambir Singh at the police headquarters for the purpose.

The NIA had further contended that Vaze had given some clothes and bundles of money to Sharma for execution of the plan.

Denying the allegations, Vaze handed over some clothes and some money to ensure that if he is arrested or is on the run, either way, it could be of help later.

The central agency has alleged that Sharma was in touch with another accused in the case who had eliminated Hiran.

Ponda refuted the allegations, saying that the co-accused had been Sharma’s informer for many years.

He even refuted an NIA claim that Sharma sheltered the co-accused at a quarantine centre owned by him. Sharma’s wife owns the building, and on the first floor is a hotel. A similar one has been leased out. The accused were staying there during the COVID period for quarantine. Ponda questioned how Sharma could be held responsible for a place that is leased out.

In a related case, former Assistant Police Inspector (API) Riyazuddin Kazi, who is arrested for his alleged role in the Antilia bomb scare case and Hiran murder case, has filed a bail plea before the HC.

His counsel, Yug Chaudhary, argued that the chargesheet filed against Kazi is not under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and he is only charged with sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing the disappearance of evidence of an offence or giving false information to a screen offender) of the Indian Penal Code. The sections are bailable, and the maximum punishment for them is four years. Kazi has been behind bars for over a year.

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