Alleged drug lord Sharafat Sheikh’s wife, who is in judicial custody since June 2006 on charges of being part of an organised crime syndicate, has been denied bail by the Delhi High Court. Observing that Zohra Sheikh has been “roped in” on very serious charges including possessing unaccounted wealth on behalf of the crime syndicate, the high court said if let out on bail, “she may tamper with the witnesses and the evidence” considering the stakes for her and her husband.
Justice Vipin Sanghi said in such a case where the “nature and gravity of accusations” are so serious, grant of regular bail “may have an adverse impact not only in the progress of the case, but also on the trust that the society has reposed in the criminal justice system”.
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The court noted that the woman, Sharafat’s second wife, had disclosed that she had married Sharafat knowing that he has been arrested for his involvement in several criminal cases ranging from possession of drugs and theft to kidnapping, criminal intimidation and under the Arms Act.
Besides, she wanted “to enjoy his wealth and live lavishly, knowing that the wealth owned by Sharafat was out of his illegal activities”.
“She holds moveable and immoveable properties in her name, which she has failed to account for. She has, admittedly, commanded the gang when her husband went to jail. She and her family maintain a very lavish and fancy lifestyle,” the court noted in its order while dismissing her bail application.
It also said the woman was facing charges of destruction of evidence, forging voter identity cards to meet her husband in jail and was also convicted in two criminal cases for kidnapping and causing hurt by dangerous weapon, an inference can be drawn that she could commit an offence while on bail.
“Prima facie, the acts of the applicant (Zohra) comes within the definition of ‘abet’ as defined in section 2(1)(a) of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and, prima facie, establishes her role as a conspirator in assisting and managing the crime syndicate.
“She appears to be in possession of movable and immovable properties derived and obtained from commission of an organized crime syndicate, which she has not satisfactorily accounted for,” the court said.
According to the prosecution, a secret information was received on July 7, 2005 that Sharafat, suspected to trade in narcotics with his gang members in Delhi on a large scale, was to come to his residence.
Based on the information, a raid was conducted and Sharafat was found. He was also alleged to have in his possession a loaded pistol and a packet of 500 grams of ‘heroin or smack’.
Delhi Police had said that since it was alleged that Sharafat was the chief of a crime syndicate and was amassing wealth through illegal trade of narcotics, provisions under MCOCA were invoked.
Later sanction was granted by the Additional Commissioner of Police for prosecution of Sharafat and other accused –Mohd Saleem, Sheikh Hannan, and Najma Sheikh (first wife of Sharafat) and subsequently, the first charge sheet was filed on December 10, 2005.
During investigation, prosecution had sought sanction against Zohra for alleged commission of offence under section 4 (for possessing unaccountable wealth on behalf of member of organised crime syndicate) of MCOCA and a supplementary charge sheet was filed against her on September 8, 2006 and she was arrested on June 12, 2006.
She had later applied for regular bail and it was dismissed by the sessions court last year, after which she moved the high court.