There is some respite for the eight people who had been charged with the murder of matka (gambling) kingpin Suresh Bhagat who was killed in a mishap on the Alibaug-Pen road in 2008.
The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act Court’s order has come as a major blow to the Crime Branch. All the eight accused will now be tried in a sessions court.
The strict law, under which Bhagat’s wife Jaya Chedda and son Hitesh had been charged along with six others has now been dropped.
The police had initially registered a case of rash and negligent driving. Later, when the Crime Branch took over the probe, it found that the death was a larger conspiracy by Jaya and Hitesh who wanted to take over his multi-crore business.
The Crime Branch alleged that Jaya paid Rs 45 lakh to a member of the Arun Gawli gang, Suhas Roge, to kill Suresh. Five of their accomplices — Harish Mandvekar, Kiran Pujari, Kiran Amli, truck owner Ajimuddin Sheikh and driver Pravin Shetty.
The Crime Branch filed a chargesheet, which included copies of the confessions of the accused.
However, the defence lawyers challenged the application of the strict law and filed bail applications of Jaya, Hitesh and Amli.
Hitesh’s advocate Subhash Kanse argued that there were no past cases of organised crime against his client to draw the strict Act.
The defence also pointed to technical glitches like Mandvekar’s confession that was sgined by Roge.
The defence argued that the prosecution had not provided any evidence to prove that the accused were part of an organised syndicate.
All the accused will now be tried for murder and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. The judge after dropping the MCOCA asked the defense to approach the regular sessions court with the bail applications.