In a rare occurrence during an accused’s production in court for further custodial interrogation, extradited former gangster Ravi Pujari told the court that he wanted to share certain information with the investigation officer and did not object to his extended custody with the crime branch as sought.
Pujari had been in the crime branch’s custody since 23 February for 14 days. He was produced before a special court under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) at 11.20 AM. Special Public Prosecutor for the crime branch Sunil Gonsalves sought that his custody be extended for another five days. He told the court that the police are inching close to unearthing a big conspiracy in the Gajalee firing case of 2016. The police had recorded Pujari’s confessional statement, the court was informed and needed to confront him with the facts stated in it.
Appearing for Pujari, his advocate Devanand Manerkar opposed his further custodial interrogation stating that sufficient opportunity was given for the investigation already. The court noted in its order that at this stage, the accused said he wanted to make certain submissions and hence the court heard him in person. Pujari then stepped into the witness box and told the judge that he had no objection to his custody being extended for five days as he said he had certain information to share with the investigation officer.
Special Judge DE Kothalikar stated that considering the submissions made by the SPP that Pujari needs to be confronted with averments made in his confessional statements, it is just to grant custody till 15 March.
Pujari who was in a Bangalore prison, was brought to Mumbai after a Bangalore court allowed the Mumbai Police to take his custody in the Gajalee Restaurant firing case of 2016. Pujari’s henchmen had allegedly threatened the Vile Parle’s restaurant’s employee by entering its premises and holding a pistol to him, asking his owner to yield. The visit happened after Pujari, who was abroad, allegedly made extortion calls to the owner which did not yield results. A bullet casing was allegedly found from the spot later, though no one claimed to have heard firing.