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Antilia case: SC to examine bail plea by ex-cop Pradeep Sharma

IANS | May 29, 2023 03:36 PM

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a plea by retired high-profile police officer and encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, arrested in connection with the sensational Mansukh Hiran murder case, challenging the Bombay High Court order, which rejected his bail application.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Prashant Kumar Mishra took up the petition filed by Sharma, who moved the apex court challenging the high court order rejecting his bail plea on January 23, 2023.

Sharma, in an additional document, claimed that the health condition of his wife was deteriorating each passing day and she was in dire need of immediate surgery.

"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 aged mother, " said the document.

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

The vacation bench deferred the interim bail plea hearing to June 2, after noting that Sharma has not filed a proper petition.

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 service...prime 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 vs. 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 state of Maharashtra.

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 National Investigation Agency (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 dow was worried that he would spill the beans on them, so they plotted to eliminate him.

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