The President of Fight for Rights of Bar Owners Association and Maharashtra Liquour Association Manjeet Singh Sethi famous for his anti-stance on Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil, for closing down dance bars in the state was on Tuesday convicted to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment along with his son Vicky by a sessions court in a 1997 kidnapping case involving a court clerk.
Sessions judge JS Kalyanpur has also imposed a fine of Rs 1.25 lakh on them and issued notices against five defence witnesses under perjury, asking why action should not be taken against them for lying under oath during the trial. The five have been asked to file their replies in the matter by February 28.
Sethi and his son have been convicted in a case, which was pending trial in the session court for seven-and-half years. The trial had suddenly seen light days after Sethi who was the only vocal office bearer highlighting the plight of Bar Dancers had illegally carried out the body of a bar dancer from the LN Cooper hospital.
According to the police, Sethi and his son, Vicky, had kidnapped Kuldeep Singh Chandok, who was working as a clerk with an advocate, on January 6, 1997. Sethi had agreed to enter into a contract to purchase a property at Seven Bungalow in suburban Andheri owned by one Reshmi Bhatnagar. However, the deal did not work out.
Initially, the bungalow was jointly owned by Bhatnagar and one Mumtaz Khan. However, there arose some dispute between the two ladies and the suit was filed in the city civil court. During this time, Sethi met Bhatnagar and showed interest in buying the property, said the police. However, the dispute between Bhatnagar and Khan was settled amicably. As a result, the deal between Bhatnagar and Sethi did not work out.
Later Bhatnagar decided to shift to the US. Before leaving, she gave a power of attorney to her advocate A Shial, which was to be executed in case of sale of property. As Sethi wanted the property and the deal was not working out Sethi along with his son allegedly kidnapped Shial's clerk, Chandok, on January 6, 1997, said the police. They also took away cash worth Rs 50,000 that the clerk was carrying. Subsequently Chandok lodged a complaint with the Colaba police station. After preliminary investigations Sethi and his son were arrested on February 21, 1997 under charges of kidnapping and robbery under the Indian Penal Code. But later they were released on bail.
Additional pubic prosecutor Sheela Jamdar argued before the court that Sethi intended to get the property owned by one Rashmi Bhatnagar and kidnapped Chandok to obtain blank stamp papers allegedly signed by her. The prosecution contended that he intended to use the documents to get the property.
However, the police were unable to find the stamp papers or the money when they arrested Sethi. Sethi had contended that he was not in the city at the time of the incident and was in a factory at Tarapur, an argument which the court rejected.
The prosecution also submitted medical reports before the court and other corroborative evidence, which they said, showed the evidence of Sethi's involvement in the case. The court accepted the evidence and convicted Sethi and his son on the basis of the medical report and the complainant's statement in court.