Art dealer Rekha Naik, who was booked for cheating and breach of trust for allegedly selling 43 paintings of Gaotinde, was granted anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court on Tuesday stating that it was "not a fit case for custodial interrogation".
A division bench granted Rekha anticipatory bail against Rs 5 lakh cash.
The court has directed Naik to accompany the police whereever they travel in search of the 24 missing paintings, while directing her to surrender her SIM card to the police.
Naik had approached the HC challenging the order of sessions court rejecting her anticipatory bail application in November 2006.
The sessions court had, however, granted anticipatory bail of Rs 5,000 to her doctor husband while observing that he had no major role to play in the offence, which prima facie only Rekha appeared to have committed.
Vishwas Yande, a retired professor and head of the drawing and painting department of JJ School of Art, had approached the police against the Naiks. He claimed that he had been given 43 paintings by Gaitonde himself while the artist was still a student.
Yande said he gave these paintings to the couple after Rekha said there were industrialists who were keen on buying them. Rekha later claimed that most of the paintings were destroyed in the July 2005 deluge in Mumbai. Yande said that he was paid Rs 35 lakh but only for five framed paintings. The value of the 43 paintings is said to be over Rs 3 crore.
However, Naiks claimed that they had paid Rs 35 lakhs for all the 43 paintings and they have a signed document for it. Yande's counsel Satish Maneshinde said Rekha Naik had presented a forged document in court.
Senior counsel Adik Shirodkar and Sanjog Parab, who represented the Naiks, said that Yande had filed a false complaint after realising that he had sold the paintings for a lesser amount as the prices had suddenly soared.
Of the 43 paintings, 15 paintings were found by the police. However, 24 are still missing.