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Antilia case: SC grants 3-week interim bail to ex-cop Pradeep Sharma

IANS | June 05, 2023 12:21 PM

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday granted a three-week interim bail to retired high-profile police officer and encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, arrested in connection with the sensational Mansukh Hiran murder case.

Sharma moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order, which rejected his bail application.

A vacation bench headed by Judge Aniruddha Bose said Sharma would be released on bail to take care of his ailing wife on the terms and conditions as fixed by the trial court.

Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, representing Sharma, claimed that his client's wife's health is deteriorating each passing day and she needs immediate surgery.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the NIA, opposed Sharma's bail plea and asked the court to direct him to produce medical records.

After hearing submissions, the bench has fixed the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

A document filed by Sharma in the court, said: "Petitioner's mother is 93 years old and the wife of the Petitioner is her primary caregiver. Due to the current medical complications of the wife, there is nobody to look after the wife and mother of the Petitioner. The Petitioner is the only male member to take care of his wife and old aged mother.

"It is further submitted that if Petitioner is not released on bail/interim bail, the same can have a debilitating effect on the health of his wife".

On May 29, the apex court had asked Sharma to file a proper petition and deferred the hearing on his interim bail plea to June 2.

The special leave petition filed by Sharma said: "Petitioner is a decorated police officer, who has retired from service since 2019. Retired police officers do not have the same clout as when they were in witness in this case is a protected witness and thus the possibility of witness tampering does not arise. Moreover, a mere apprehension of tampering with evidence, without any material, is not a ground for denial of bail as is held by this Hon'ble Court in P. Chidambaram v Central Bureau of Investigation 2019."

Sharma has been in custody since June 17, 2021.

The Maharashtra government was represented by advocate Aaditya Pande, standing counsel and advocate-on-record for the state.

In January this year, a division bench of the high court comprising Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and R.N. Laddha, dismissed Sharma's appeal challenging a special NIA Court order which had rejected his bail plea in February 2022.

The SUV laden with gelatin and a death threat to the Ambani family was found abandoned near the iconic Antilia building on February 25, 2021, and on March 5, the vehicle owner Hiran was found dead in the Thane Creek.

The NIA which took over the probe from Maharashtra Police and arrested Sharma in June 2021, contended that he allegedly conspired with another sacked policeman Sachin Vaze to finish off Hiran, considered a 'weak link' in the entire conspiracy to terrorise the Ambanis.

The NIA said that Hiran was in the know of the entire plot and the accused Sharma-Vaze were worried that he would spill the beans on them, so they plotted to eliminate him.

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