The Mumbai police on Tuesday invoked sections of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) against gangster Ashwin Naik in connection with a recent extortion case registered by a builder at Dadar police station.
Naik and four of his aides — Pramod Keluskar, Janardhan Sakpal, Prathmesh Parab and Rajesh Tambe — were arrested on December 21 on allegations of extortion, abduction, criminal conspiracy and issuing death threats. The police later arrested four more suspects and detained a juvenile in connection with the case.
The nine accused, including Naik, were produced before the special MCOCA court on Tuesday afternoon after the police invoked the charges of organised crime. The prosecution asked that their police custody be extended for 10 days.
Public prosecutor Dilip Shah told the court that all the accused are known criminals. “Naik has been involved in many criminal cases and booked under MCOCA. We need his custody to unearth his crime syndicate and find out how the money is distributed,” Shah said.
Contesting the prosecution’s claims, advocates Prem Keshwani and Bharat Mane, appearing for Naik and others, claimed that the case filed by the builder is false. “The case pertains to the plot owned by Naik. He had asked for his money as the builders were not developing it,” Keshwani said.
Advocate Karan Mehta, appearing for Keluskar, contended that his client was a businessman and was not present when Naik was caught red-handed trying to extort Rs 50 lakh from the builder.
“The complainant is a business rival of Keluskar and is also facing a criminal case. It is for this reason Keluskar’s name has been added in this case. According to the police case, he was present at the spot when Naik took money from the builder. This story is false as my client was at the sessions court at the time, attending a hearing. Thus prima facie the FIR appears to have been lodged with malicious intentions,” Mehta argued.
The court, however, remanded Naik and all the others in police custody until January 2.