HC grants bail to aide of Gangster Ravi Pujari | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC grants bail to aide of Gangster Ravi Pujari

Jul 08, 2024 07:34 AM IST

The Bombay High Court granted bail to Aakash Bhaskar Shetty, an aide of gangster Ravi Pujari, citing prolonged jail time and insufficient evidence in an alleged extortion case

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court granted bail to Aakash Bhaskar Shetty, an aide of gangster Ravi Pujari, citing prolonged jail time and insufficient evidence in an alleged extortion case. The case dates back to late 2018 to early 2019, when the gang’s leader Pujari allegedly made repeated extortion calls to a real estate developer and his relatives, demanding 2 crore, and threatening their lives. The prosecution claims that Shetty, along with co-accused William Rodrigues, allegedly provided the gang leader with personal information and contact details of the developer.

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The prosecution asserted that Rodriques and Shetty were integral members of the organised crime syndicate led by Poojari. They alleged that the duo furnished detailed information about the developer’s projects and personal details to Poojari, which facilitated the extortion attempts. The prosecution highlighted that Poojari’s men had even fired shots at the complainant to intimidate him, leaving a note with Poojari’s contact number and threatening to kill him if he did not comply.

Shetty’s lawyer argued that his role was no different from Rodrigues, who had already been granted bail. The lawyer highlighted that Shetty has been in jail for over five years, the trial has been slow, and only eight out of 30 witnesses have been examined so far. “Since March 2024, there has not been any substantial progress in the trial,” the lawyer stated.

On the other hand, the prosecution opposed the bail, saying Shetty was more involved than Rodrigues. They claimed Shetty collected the phone numbers of the victim and his family and sent them to Pujari. They also pointed to a statement from a key witness, known as ‘X’, and a confession from Rodrigues implicating Shetty.

However, the court found flaws in the prosecution’s case. The key witness ‘X’ had testified but did not support the prosecution’s version during the trial. “The fact that the said witness declined to subscribe to the prosecution version makes out a very strong prima facie case in favour of the applicant,” the court noted.

The court also emphasised Shetty’s prolonged detention and the slow pace of the trial. “It is well recognized that a prolonged period of incarceration without a real prospect of the expeditious conclusion of the trial infringes the right of an accused to a speedy trial,” stated Justice N. J. Jamadar.

Given these circumstances, the court decided to grant bail to Shetty. He was ordered to furnish a bond of 1,00,000 and appear at the DCB, CID office on the first Monday of every month. The court also instructed Shetty not to tamper with the evidence or intimidate witnesses.

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