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Wednesday,12-May-2021

Crime

SUV case: NIA detains ‘mystery woman’ seen with accused Sachin Vaze

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Sachin-Vaze

After a hunt of nearly 10 days, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) finally caught and detained a ‘mystery woman’ seen (in CCTV) behind accused police official Sachin Vaze in the SUV and Thane businessman’s death case.

Late on Thursday, the NIA accosted her at the Mumbai Airport and detained her. Later a team searched her home in suburbs in the western Thane district, and was questioning her.

As per preliminary information, the woman was allegedly engaged in converting black money into white using a currency note counting machine, one of which was found in one of the two Mercedes Benz cars used by arrested-suspended Assistant Police Inspector (API) Vaze which were seized by the NIA last month.

The ‘mystery woman’ angle had emerged in the case from March 25 when CCTV grabs of a five-star hotel showed her closely trailing Vaze out of the hotel, where he had stayed for at least five days in mid-February, baffling the NIA sleuths.

The developments came close on the heels of a posh restaurant in Girgaum that was raided by the NIA on Thursday morning as part of the probe into the two cases.

The NIA has reportedly found some incriminating documents pertaining to more than half a dozen mobile SIM cards used by Vaze.

The central probe agency is investigating two connected matters — the SUV Scorpio which was found abandoned with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat note near Antilia, the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani on February 25, followed by the death of its owner, Thane businessman Mansukh Hiren whose body was found in the Thane Creek wetlands on March 5.

In the probe, the NIA has seized seven high-end cars — the first one was a Scorpio, an Innova, two Mercedes Benz, a LandCruiser Prado, a Mitsubishi Outlander and a Volvo — and is now on the trail of another car in which Vaze and some co-accused, have been caught on CCTV footage while travelling to an undisclosed location.

Crime

Bhima Koregaon case: SC dismisses activist Gautam Navlakha’s bail plea

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Supreme-Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by activist Gautam Navlakha, who sought bail in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case of Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon.

Navlakha had challenged the Bombay High Court’s February 8 order, which declined to grant him bail, holding that the alleged illegal detention period cannot be considered to compute maximum 90 days’ time, which is mandatory to file charge sheet, or the accused could get statutory bail.

A bench comprising Justices U.U. Lalit and K.M. Joseph dismissed Navlakha’s appeal. The top court on March 26 had reserved its verdict on Navlakha’s plea. Pronouncing the verdict, Justice Joseph said it is dismissing the appeal filed by Navlakha against the High Court order.

On March 3, the top court had sought reply from the NIA on Navlakha’s plea where he argued that the charge sheet was not filed within the stipulated time period and hence, he was entitled for default bail. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Navlakha, had contended before the top court that his client should be released on default bail, as the charge sheet was filed after 93 days of his custody. Sibal had also submitted before the top court that two days period of transit from Delhi to Mumbai should also be counted in 90 days period.

The top court had on March 16 last year declined anticipatory bail to Navlakha and asked him to surrender within three weeks before the NIA. On April 8, last year, the top court gave Navlakha one more week to surrender in the case. The FIR against him was re-registered in January 2020, and he surrendered before the NIA on April 14 last year. Navlakha had spent 11 days in the NIA’s custody till April 25, and since then, he is in judicial custody.

The High Court on February 8 had dismissed Navlakha’s plea saying, “it sees no reason to interfere with a special court’s order”, which earlier rejected his bail plea.

Navlakha had moved the high court last year, against the special NIA court’s order of July 12, 2020, which rejected his plea for statutory bail.

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Crime

Grenade attack on police party in Jammu and Kashmir

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Unidentified persons hurled a grenade at a police party engaged in checking vehicles in J&K’s Samba district, which exploded without causing any damage.

Mukesh Singh, IGP (Jammu zone) confirmed to reporters that a grenade was hurled during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday in Nud area of Samba-Mansar road in Samba district.

Police said the grenade missed the target and exploded on the road without causing any damage.

Hurling a grenade at the security forces is an unusual incident in the Jammu division.

Police has started a manhunt to trace those responsible for the grenade attack.

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Crime

Tarun Tejpal rape trial: Judgement postponed due to lack of staff

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The judgement in the rape case filed against former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal may now be pronounced on May 19, the defence counsel in the case said on Wednesday.

“The judgement has been postponed because the court is understaffed due to the new SOPs and the high rise in infections,” prosecution lawyer Francis Tavora told reporters.

The state is currently under a two-week Covid curfew.

The judgement was originally scheduled to be pronounced on April 27, but was adjourned to May 12.

The former editor-in-chief of the Tehelka investigative magazine was accused by a junior colleague of sexually assaulting her at a five star resort in Goa.

Tejpal has been booked under sections 376 (rape), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement) 354A (sexual harassment) and 354B (criminal assault), of the Indian Penal Code.

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