Salem case weak if organised crime charge is dropped
In the absence of charges of organized crime and criminal conspiracy, the prosecuting agencies will have a tough time in nailing Salem, reports Satya Prakash.delhi Updated: Mar 21, 2008 02:00 IST
Dropping charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and Section 120 B of India Penal Code (conspiracy) would substantially dilute the case against underworld don Abu Salem making it difficult for the prosecution to prove it "beyond reasonable doubt".
In the absence of charges of organized crime and criminal conspiracy, the prosecuting agencies will have a tough time in nailing Salem, who has been extradited from Portugal to face trial in eight cases, including the 1993 Mumbai terror blasts.
Perhaps it is this that has made Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh, appointed as Special Public Prosecutor to handle the sensitive case, to write to the Home Secretary and the Delhi Police Chief to approach the Portuguese Supreme Court to seek a fresh order for Salem's extradition under these provisions as well.
He has pointed out that it is not that the Portuguese Supreme Court refused Salem's extradition under these provisions but the CBI-appointed lawyer to file appeal against the Portuguese High Court order refusing extradition did not mention it without any authorization. It was an "unauthorized omission" on the part of the CBI-appointed lawyer over there, he added.
The result is that following Salem's plea before the Portuguese Supreme Court for recall of the extradition order; the Government has been forced to file an application for withdrawal of MCOCA and criminal conspiracy charges against him.
However, mere filing of the withdrawal plea was not enough and the public prosecutor has to be convinced that the charges deserved to be withdrawn.
Interestingly, the two provisions in themselves are not substantive offences. They have to be read with substantive offences like sedition, murder, attempt to murder, extortion etc. to nail him. Once organized crime is added to the charges, it helps the prosecution in proving them, as the evidence of a co-accused is admissible against an accused under MCOCA.
Salem, who was extradited to India in 2005, is facing MCOCA charges in connection with an extortion call made to Delhi businessman Ashok Gupta in 2002. Delhi Police had booked him for demanding an extortion of Rs 50 crore from Gupta. Salem is also accused of masterminding the 1993 terror blasts in Mumbai and is facing trial in six other cases. Though Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005, the whole process started during the NDA regime.