The Mumbai Crime branch has sent an official request to the state home ministry asking it to appoint Ujjwal Nikam as the special public prosecutor in the Karan Kakkad and Arun Tikku murder cases.
A senior official from the crime branch told reporters on condition of anonymity that the ministry has forwarded the request to the law and judiciary department for consideration.
The cases are very complicated and the best lawyers are required to ensure they don't fall through in the court, the official said. “In Kakkad’s murder, especially, the evidence hinges upon DNA results and hence we have asked for Nikam to represent us,” the official said.
Nikam is a well-known lawyer with an impeccable record and has represented the state in several high profile cases like the 1993 serial blast case in Mumbai, 26/11 terror attack case and the controversial Khairlanji killings.
Since 1989 when he first became a public prosecutor, Nikam has secured life imprisonment for 615 criminals and capital punishment for 34.
Nikam’s experience could be crucial in the Kakkad and Tikku murder cases, which have attracted considerable public attention over the last month. Senior citizen Arun Tikku was murdered in his Lokhandwala apartment in April, allegedly by Palande's associates. A probe into the case led police to suspect Palande's involvement in disappearance of aspiring producer Karan Kakkad, who was untraceable since March 5. Palande claimed to have hacked Kakkad to death and then strewn his body parts in the Kumbharli Ghat near Chiplun.
Making the case even more tricky is the confusion over the identity of Palande's associate Simran Sood and the relation between the two. The two have frequently changed their statements to police and have been referred to as brother-sister, uncle-niece and husband-wife at several stages in the probe.
Given the visibility the two murder cases have attained, police officials said they were ensuring there was no slip-up from the police and wanted the best legal expert to fight it out.