Prima facie, Riyazuddin Kazi was part of the conspiracy: NIA court
Dismissed cop aided and abetted Sachin Vaze, prime accused in Antilia explosive scare, in collecting evidence with intent to destroy it
Mumbai: Material brought on record by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) prima facie suggests that dismissed assistant police inspector (API) Riyazuddin Kazi was part of the conspiracy hatched by ex-colleague and prime accused in the Antilia explosives scare and Mansukh Hiran murder case, Sachin Vaze, the special NIA court observed while rejecting Kazi’s bail plea on March 1.
In the detailed order which became available on Friday, special judge AT Wankhede said: “Prima facie, it appears from the previous and subsequent conduct of the applicant/accused (Kazi) that he was having knowledge of the main object/purpose of the conspiracy hatched for placing the gelatine-laden vehicle at Carmichael Road.”
“In discharge of the same and in order to disappear the evidence and screen the offender, the applicant/accused, at the instance of the accused no.1 — Sachin Waze — collected the DVRs, CPU, etc. to destroy evidence,” the special judge said, adding, “Ultimately, the applicant/accused aided and abetted for the commission of the offence under UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act].”
On February 25, 2021, a Mahindra Scorpio was found abandoned near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilia, on Carmichael Road in south Mumbai, with a duffel bag containing 20 loose gelatine sticks and a note with a death threat to his family. On March 5, the body of a Thane trader Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the SUV, was found dumped in a creek at Reti Bunder near Mumbra.
The Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai Crime Branch, led by Vaze, investigated the case initially, during which time Vaze and his team, which also comprised Kazi, collected call detail records (CDR) and digital video recorders (DVR) pertinent to the case.
On March 8, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification, directing the NIA to take over the case. The agency arrested Vaze on March 9 after interrogating him for several hours. The agency arrested Kazi on April 10, alleging that he was part of the larger conspiracy hatched by Vaze who aided and abetted by collecting and destroying crucial pieces of evidence revealing Vaze’s involvement in the case.
The federal agency claimed in its chargesheet that Kazi aided Vaze in arranging fake vehicle registration number plates used in the commission of the crime, in destruction of evidence by illegally taking over CCTV, DVRs which had captured movement of vehicles allegedly used by Vaze during the placing of the Scorpio on Carmichael Road and by illegally taking over CCTV DVRs and records of the shops from where Vaze had procured fake vehicle number plates.
The special court rejected Kazi’s contentions that he had collected the CCTV, DVRs etc. as part of his duty — pursuant to orders of his senior, the head of the CIU — and there was no evidence suggesting that he was part of the larger conspiracy. His lawyers claimed that even if the allegations levelled against him were taken to be true, the offence of conspiring to destroy evidence was a bailable offence, and he was entitled to bail as a matter of right.
“As a matter of fact the articles such as DVRs, CPU etc. which were seized or taken in custody by the applicant/accused were seized without preparing panchanama in presence of the panch witnesses, nor those were sealed,” the court held. “After recovering the said articles, those were just kept in the server room of the CIU office and only stickers were pasted on it.”
“Prima-facie, the only intention can be gathered behind seizure of these articles is to destroy the entire evidence pointing out the involvement of the vehicle, the person using the same and he person who prepared the fake number plate. Performing such act can’t be a part of the duty of the applicant/accused,” the court added.
Who is Riyazuddin Kazi?
Riyazuddin Hasimuddin Kazi had served for 20 years in police department and was posted in CIU since 2017. He was suspended on April 12, 2021 — two days after his arrest by the NIA and was eventually dismissed from service by order dated May 21, 2021. Here’s what the NIA probe revealed:
1. Kazi allegedly aided Sachin Vaze in arranging fake vehicle number plates
2. Two days after the explosive-laden SUV was found abandoned outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s south Mumbai resident, Kazi along with other CIU staff seized DVRs from Nikhil Villa near Antilia, Sadguru Car Decor and Classic Car Décor (shops owned by Mansukh Hiran in Thane), and Saket Co-operative Housing Society at Thane, where Vaze resided
3. On March 1, 2021, Kazi allegedly visited Arihant Cars, Mulund and seized the DVRs without any documentation
4. On March 2, the CIU team visited Bunty Radium at Vikhroli and seized a CPU, register, Bill Book for the year 2020 without any documentation.
5. On March 9, a day after NIA took over investigation in the case, Kazi and API Prakash Howal allegedly travelled with Vaze in his Mercedes-Benz to the Bandra Kurla Complex, where they witnessed, albeit from some distance, Vaze throwing some important pieces of evidence seized by the CIU team throw in Mithi river with an intention to destroy the same.