Encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma has been acquitted in a fake encounter case in which he was the main accused while 21 others who were charged with acting on his orders have been convicted by a city court.
A special investigation team set up by the Bombay high court had filed the charge sheet naming Sharma as the main conspirator in the gunning down of alleged gangster Lakhan Bhaiyya at the Nana-Nani Park at Versova on November 11, 2006.
The prosecution argued that 16 policemen, including inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi, and five others were following Sharma’s orders when they abducted Lakhan Bhaiyya or Ramnarayan Gupta, a suspected Chhota Rajan aide, and later shot him down using Sharma’s gun.
While acquitting Sharma, sessions judge VD Jadhvar held that the encounter was fake. The judge convicted the 21 others under various charges. He will sentence them on Monday.
The special public prosecutor Vidhya Kasle said the prosecution would challenge Sharma's acquittal in the Bombay high court.
Lakhan's brother Ram Prasad too plans to appeal in a higher court against Sharma’s acquittal. Ram Prasad, an advocate himself, had on November 15, 2006, moved a petition in the Bombay high court alleging that his brother was murdered by the police.
Pradeep Sharma is now in the Thane jail. He was dismissed in August 2008 while posted at Dharavi police station for alleged underworld links but was reinstated on appeal by the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal in May 2009.
Sharma will remain in jail till the sessions court delivers its final verdict.
Meanwhile the prosecution said that they would challenge the acquittal of Sharma before the Bombay High court as they claimed that he was the key conspirator in the case.