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Chhota Rajan in custody, CBI struggles to get one magistrate court to hear all cases

Rajan has around 71 cases against him, of which 25 have to be first tried before the magistrate court only.

mumbai Updated: Mar 13, 2018 10:09 IST
Charul Shah
Charul Shah
Hindustan Times
mumbai,central bureau of investigation,CBI
The agency requested if the administration could transfer all the cases pending against Rajan before one magistrate court.(Representational photo)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the case against Chhota Rajan, is still struggling to get all cases that are triable against him at magistrate courts, before one court, for technical convenience. Rajan has around 71 cases against him, of which 25 have to be first tried before the magistrate court only. These are mostly extortion cases that were registered with the anti-extortion cell of the Mumbai police before being transferred to CBI.

CBI had been seeking to allot one magistrate court to hear all 25 cases. To justify their demand, the agency claimed that Rajan’s life is under threat in Mumbai jails. Hence, the authorities have decided to not bring him to the city and he is being produced before the sessions court through video conference.

Police sources claimed the request was turned down as a special magistrate court cannot be assigned only to try cases of one accused, when the pendency of cases in metropolitan magistrate courts is so high.

The agency requested if the administration could transfer all the cases pending against Rajan before one magistrate court, if not allotment of one magistrate court. The request is still under consideration. Pending the request, the agency has not yet taken up any of the 25 cases.

Noted criminal lawyer Girish Kulkarni, said, “There are cases where courts have refrained from hearing a case involving the same accused if they had adjudicated his other case. This shows there may be bias opinion.”

Senior lawyer, Mahesh Jethmalani said, “When the judge is dealing with many cases regarding same accused, he decides each case individually. The same would be followed for Rajan.”

Former high court, Judge Abhay Thipsay, said, “The question of bias can come when there are common factors to be adjudicated in the case.” He added that parties have a right to approach the same judge or higher authorities to transfer their case before another court if they feel there is a bias.

Rajan moved an application in June 2017 asking a magistrate court in Esplanade centre to take him into judicial custody as the case was pending in court before being transferred to CBI. The court has not taken up the case as it has not been notified to hear CBI’s cases, which is mandatory.

CBI makes no progress in most Rajan cases

Two years and three months after the deportation of underworld don Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje, alias Chhota Rajan, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has hardly made any fresh headway in cases registered against him, barring the murder of journalist J Dey.

Rajan was deported to India in November 2015 from Bali. After his arrival, the Centre, with the consent of the state government, on November 21, 2015, issued a notification to transfer all the cases against him to CBI.

Mumbai police had listed around 71 cases against Rajan which were transferred to CBI. Out of these, the agency has taken up investigation in around 20 cases in the last two years.

However, the agency has hardly produced anything fresh against the gangster.

Meanwhile, the special court is conducting trials in five cases –murder of journalist J Dey, attempt to murder hotelier BR Shetty, firing at builder Ajay Gosalia, John Pareira murder case and Asif Dadhi shootout.

Of these, CBI had presented fresh evidence only in the J Dey murder case, while in the rest of the cases, the agency submitted reports saying the investigation done by Mumbai police is correct.

The prosecution endorsed the charge sheets filed by the city police and began the trials. Meanwhile, CBI is still struggling to trace records of older cases.

An officer from Mumbai police, who was deputed to CBI to assist the agency in the process, said, “In many cases they have not found preliminary record and case papers. Most officers who investigated the cases

have retired and some are not traceable.”

Further, court records of old cases are also not available in many of the cases as they were destroyed periodically, keeping only the copy of the judgement on record as per the rule.

The special court set up to hear cases registered under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) had recently asked the registry to trace records of the old cases of Rajan and submit the reports periodically, once in every 15 days.

With several such difficulties, the agency registered fresh complaints in several old cases, an officer said.

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 10:09 IST