Mumbai: Court raps Vaze’s lawyer for letter leak, police officer says threat for his life in jail

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) judge on Friday pulled up suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze’s lawyer for the controversial handwritten letter by Vaze addressed to the court in which he had made extortion allegations on top ministers of the state Maha Vikas Aghadi government, photos of which had gone viral.

Judge Prashant R Sitre questioned Vaze’s counsel Aabad Ponda why they could not follow proper procedure under the CrPC. “I didn’t tell you don’t give it. I have said every time to give in proper format. Why didn’t you do it,” the court asked. It warned them, “Next time this should not happen.”

The court, contrary to previous remand proceedings, asked Vaze to stand in the box meant for the accused. Soon after proceedings were completed, the judge asked him to be taken away to judicial custody as the NIA did not seek his further custody.

Regarding the leak, Ponda told the court he was himself surprised and had no clue about it. He said he is not involved and totally against it. The matter had come up after the NIA had brought it up before the court.

Special Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves told the court, “On 7 April (when Vaze was last produced before court) the accused had written a letter that the court dismissed, asking him to follow procedure.” The NIA further said that the letter was given to his advocate and from there it got circulated. “This is a very serious matter,” said the prosecutor.

The prosecutor further said the agency was not aware of it and this is the reason it allows only short meetings with the lawyer. “Advantage has been taken,” the prosecutor said.

Vaze’s advocate later expressed his apprehension to the court that Vaze has been part of many investigations as an API and there is apprehension of threat to his life in jail, that he be provided a secure cell. The court directed that the jail authorities adopt necessary measures for security of the accused.

The court had asked the NIA on April 7 when Vaze was produced to produce his medical status reports in connection with his cardiac ailments. The NIA informed the court that as per a report of April 8, he does not need an active cardiological intervention at present.

The CBI had made a plea on Thursday seeking some documents from the NIA related to the Antilia probe. The court allowed this plea after the NIA submitted that the CBI could meet and speak with its investigation officer.

After being remanded in judicial custody, Vaze was taken to Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai in the afternoon in a police security escort. "Adequate security measures are in place for Vaze near his barrack," said a prison official without elaborating the security measures.

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