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How CBI tripped on Abu Salem case

CBI has committed the blunder of not asking for Abu Salem's extradition under the Act from the Portuguese Supreme Court, reports Satya Prakash.
Hindustan Times | By Satya Prakash, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 17, 2008 12:56 AM IST

As the Government faces embarrassment over its plea to withdraw charges under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) against don Abu Salem, it has come to light that the CBI committed the blunder of not asking for his extradition under the Act from the Portuguese Supreme Court.

The revelation has been made in letter to Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal by Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh on March 12. Singh, considered to be a trouble-shooter for the government, has been appointed Special Prosecutor to handle the sensitive case.

“I am of the firm view that our case in Portugal has been handled very badly,” Singh wrote after examining the case file.

He has advised the government to “immediately rectify the mistake” by filing an appropriate petition in the Portuguese court seeking fresh permission to try Salem under MCOCA as well as Section 120 B of the IPC (criminal conspiracy).

The letter said Delhi Police should move in the matter independently to obtain the Portuguese court’s permission for Salem’s trial under MCOCA and Section 120 B IPC. Mumbai Police should also make similar application.

CBI spokesman G. Mohanty refused to comment on the development saying: “We are not aware of this letter.”

Salem, who was extradited in 2005, is facing MCOCA charges in connection with an extortion call made to Delhi businessman Ashok Gupta in 2002. Delhi Police had booked him for demanding Rs 50 crore. He is also accused of masterminding the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

The letter pointed out that despite the prosecution not requesting extradition under MCOCA and Section 120 B IPC, the Portuguese Supreme Court discussed Salem’s involvement in organised crime and granted the entire request made by the prosecutor for his trial in India.

The court did not refuse Salem’s extradition under the two provisions. Rather, these were not included in the final extradition order because of “unauthorised omission” on the part of the CBI-appointed prosecutor.

Prayer for Salem’s extradition under MCOCA and Section 120 B was made before the Portuguese High Court, which had rejected it. But the CBI-appointed prosecutor failed to mention the two provisions in his appeal filed in the Supreme Court there.

On February 29, HT had reported how Delhi Police was forced to seek withdrawal of the MCOCA charges against Salem after he moved the Portuguese Supreme Court for recall of the extradition order. He had claimed that his trial under the Act amounted to violation of the conditions of extradition, as MCOCA did not figure in the final order.

The withdrawal plea, scheduled to be heard on March 24, is aimed to ensure that the Portuguese Supreme Court did not pass adverse orders against India.

Earlier, the Law Ministry had advised the Home Ministry that MCOCA charges against Salem would not be legally tenable. The MHA had forwarded the Law Ministry’s opinion to the CBI, Delhi Police, Mumbai Police and Madhya Pradesh Police.

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