Trending Now

Ex-cop Pradeep Sharma Gets Life Term In 2006 Mumbai Fake Encounter Case!

Pradeep Sharma

The Bombay High Court upheld life sentences given to 12 other cops over the 2006 killing of the alleged member of Chhota Rajan’s gang.

SETTING ASIDE his acquittal by a sessions court, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced former Mumbai police officer Pradeep Sharma to life imprisonment in the 2006 fake encounter killing of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya, an alleged member of the Chhota Rajan gang.

The court directed Sharma, considered an “encounter specialist”, to surrender within three weeks.

Allowing the state government’s appeal against Sharma’s acquittal in July 2013, a bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri V Godse in its 867-page judgement held that the trial court’s finding was “perverse and unsustainable”.

Convicting Sharma of murder and other charges, it observed that the prosecution proved that Lakhan Bhaiya “was killed by the police, by trigger-happy cops, and the same was made to look like a genuine encounter”.

The bench also upheld the conviction of 12 other policemen and a civilian, Hitesh Solanki, in the case. However, it acquitted six others — Manoj Mohan Raj, Shailendra Pandey, Sunil Solanki, Mohamed Shaikh, Akhil Khan and Suresh Shetty.

The convicted policemen are Dilip Palande, Nitin Sartape, Ganesh Harpude, Anand Patade, Prakash Kadam, Devidas Sakpal, Pandurang Kokam, Ratnakar Kamble, Sandeep Sardar, Tanaji Desai, Pradeep Suryavanshi and Vinayak Shinde.

The bench observed that while Lakhan Bhaiya had 10 cases against him, that by itself would not give the accused the “license to kill” him.

“Instead of upholding the rule of law, the police have misused their position and uniform, and have killed Ramnarayan in cold blood,” the bench said.

It emphasised that “death in police custody must be curbed with a heavy hand and must be viewed seriously” and there can be “no room for leniency as persons involved are the arm of state whose duty is to protect citizens and not to take law into their hands”.

The bench also said that since Janardan Bhange, a civilian, and police inspector Arvind Sarvankar had died in judicial custody during pendency of the appeals, their appeals stood abated.

Also Read | Abraham Ozler OTT release today: Know Where To Stream This Crime Thriller Online!

It, however, observed that it was a “matter of shame” that the killers of a prime witness, Anil Bheda, who was murdered “in a gruesome manner” on March 13, 2011 — four days after the charges were framed – were not booked and there was “absolutely no progress” in case by state CID for more than a decade. Bheda’s burnt body was found and identified on the basis of a DNA sample, it said.

“It is travesty of justice for his family,” the bench said, adding that “the police have hardly taken any pains” to nab the perpetrators. The police should investigate the murder to “take the case to its logical end, lest people lose faith in the system”, it said.

The bench held that the trial court acquitted Sharma despite observing the ballistic evidence being “weak” in the case and “overlooked” that other accused were deputed to work under him and that Sharma was present at the crime spot. It said there was evidence of witnesses, including Bheda, stating that they were threatened by lawyers and family members of the accused “to toe a particular line and to leave the city”.

The fake encounter of Lakhan Bhaiya took place on November 11, 2006, near Nana Nani Park in Versova, hours after he was picked up along with a friend from Vashi.

An FIR was registered in 2009 on the High Court’s orders after a special investigation team found that a rival of Lakhan Bhaiya had paid the policemen to kill him.

In July 2013, the sessions court awarded life sentences to 21 men, including 13 police personnel, but acquitted Sharma.

In their appeal, the state government, through special public prosecutor Rajiv Chavan and advocate Ram Prasad Gupta, Lakhan Bhaiya’s brother, submitted in the High Court that the encounter was staged and records were fabricated by the accused.

Sharma, who was earlier arrested by the National Investigation Agency in connection with the Antilia terror threat case and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, was granted bail by the Supreme Court in August last year.

With direct inputs from Indian Express!

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post: