No proof of nexus with Salim Fruit syndicate: HC grants bail to trio accused of extortion | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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No proof of nexus with Salim Fruit syndicate: HC grants bail to trio accused of extortion

Apr 13, 2024 07:26 AM IST

The trio was booked by the crime branch along with Salim Fruit, Riyaz Bhati and some others in 2022 for allegedly trying to extort ₹62 lakh from a businessman who deals in catering and gold

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has granted bail to three persons arrested by the crime branch in an extortion case, observing that there was no material to establish their nexus with the alleged organised crime syndicate controlled by dreaded gangster Shakil Babu Mohiddin Shaikh aka Chhota Shakil through his close relative Mohammad Salim Iqbal Qureshi aka Salim Fruit.

Mumbai, May 09 (ANI): Dawood Ibrahim’s associate Salim Fruit being detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after conducting a raid, in Mumbai on Monday. (ANI Photo) (Vijay Gohil)
Mumbai, May 09 (ANI): Dawood Ibrahim’s associate Salim Fruit being detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after conducting a raid, in Mumbai on Monday. (ANI Photo) (Vijay Gohil)

“Prima facie, there is no material to establish the nexus between the applicants and the alleged organised crime syndicate (controlled by Salim Fruit),” the single judge bench of justice NJ Jamadar said on Wednesday, while granting bail to Sameer Taj Khan, Firoz Hussain Shaikh and Ajay Gosalia.

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The trio was booked by the crime branch along with Salim Fruit, Riyaz Bhati and some others in 2022 for allegedly trying to extort 62 lakh from a businessman who deals in catering and gold. The complainant claimed that both he and Salim Fruit used to play cards at a club run by Shekhar Shetty aka Shekhar Anna at Matunga. In 2022, after Fruit won a card game, he began demanding 62 lakh from him.

Fruit subsequently forced the businessman to part with his Range Rover and deducted an amount of 30 lakh for the SUV from the demanded sum. As he continued to threaten the complainant with dire consequences, he transferred an additional 7 lakh to a bank account whose details Fruit provided.

It was alleged that Sameer Taj Khan, Firoz Hussain Shaikh and Ajay Gosalia were part of a conspiracy hatched during Riyaz Bhati’s birthday party in 2021 to extort from the complainant. They approached the high court separately last year after the special MCOCA court rejected their bail pleas.

The high court accepted their contention that there was hardly any evidence to connect them with the alleged organised crime syndicate controlled by Chhota Shakil. As regards their role in the conspiracy hatched at Bhati’s birthday party, the court said that around 200 persons were present at the party and the evidence to support the charge was based on hearsay. The also found that the allegation of the trio being beneficiaries of the extortion was not supported by evidence, as the witness in whose bank account the money was deposited said that he had withdrawn the entire amount and handed over the cash to Salim Fruit.

The court also considered that Samir Taj Khan and Firoz Shaikh had no antecedents, while Gosalia had been discharged in one case and acquitted in another. It ordered their release on furnishing personal bonds of 1 lakh each with one or two sureties in the same amount.

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