Arun Gawli's aide and corporator, Sunil Ghate was granted interim bail by the Bombay High Court on Thursday in an alleged extortion case against surety of Rs 25,000.
A division bench of Justice JN Patel and Justice RS Mohite granted bail to Ghate and two other aides of Gawli – Sadanand Panchal and Sanjay Girkar – observing that prima facie they cannot be kept in jail as the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act was quashed against them in July 2006.
The Maharashtra Government had challenged the quashing of MCOCA in the Supreme Court. SC had, however, asked the HC to consider the bail application on merit.
Ghate, Panchal and Girkar were arrested by the police last year on a complaint filed by businessman Mohammed Shakeel Qureshi on November 8, 2005 alleging that Gawli had demanded Rs 18 lakh for settling a dispute with his partner, Rajendra Joshi. Later in April 2006, the MCOCA was invoked against Gawli and his aides. Gawli was not arrested as he had acquired anticipatory bail from the HC.
According to the police, there was a dispute between Qureshi and his partner Rajendra Joshi over some business issue. Gawli volunteered to settle it for a sum of Rs 18 lakh which Qureshi did not agree to and lodged an extortion complaint.
On a petition by them, the HC had quashed MCOCA against them in July 2006 and also the compliant filed by Qureshi, as the complainant himself had withdrawn his statement. The HC had directed immediate release of four persons – Ghate, Panchal, Girkar and Rajendra Sadvilkar.
The government had appealed in the SC against the quashing of MCOCA. However, in November 2006 the apex court had asked the high court to consider the bail applications of the three on merit.
On Thursday, the bench observed that since the apex court had not stayed the quashing of MCOCA, it was not necessary to keep them in jail.