The Bombay High Court Wednesday granted bail to Obed Radiowala, an alleged aide of gangster Ravi Pujari in connection with the case of attempted firing at film producer and director Mahesh Bhatt.
Radiowala was apprehended in the United States and was in the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement since September 2017 for illegal stay in the country. He faces trial for the 2014 conspiracy of firing at Bhatt and another case of conspiracy to fire at filmmaker Karim Morani.
A single-judge bench of Justice Bharati H Dangre on August 10 passed an order in Radiowala’s bail plea argued through advocate Nazneen Khatri. The applicant was accused in a case registered by DCB, CID of Mumbai police along with 13 others. The 12 persons were tried by the special court under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and on April 25, 2018, Radiowala, along with one Sarwan Inder Singh, was shown as a wanted accused.
The special court in its judgement on the same day acquitted all accused persons of the offence punishable under MCOCA and recorded that there was no evidence against the absconding accused and others for the offence under the special law and no link is established with the absconding accused. Eleven persons were however convicted for the offence of criminal conspiracy and murder among others under Indian Penal code (IPC).
Thereafter, Radiowala was arrested as he was deported from the US through a Red Corner notice issued against him. He was produced before a special court on April 3, 2019, and was sent to custody. He is facing charges of murder and criminal conspiracy among others under IPC and provisions of the Arms Act.
The bench perused the chargesheet and noted that the applicant has been attributed the role of arranging financiers from the US and money was allegedly transferred to his brother Anis, who is a co-accused.
The court further stated that since there is an acquittal for an offence under MCOCA and as far as the offence of criminal conspiracy, murder is concerned, “barring the confessional statement made by the co-accused, there is no material against the present applicant, prima facie, indicating him”.
“The connection between the present applicant and co-accused cannot be looked at with suspicion since the two are brothers,” the bench noted.
Advocate Khatri for Radiowala submitted that the said amount was advanced by Obed to Anis for taking care of their mother.
Justice Dangre observed: “In any case, prima facie in absence of concrete material leading to the guilt of the Applicant, merely on the allegation that sum of Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh was transferred to his brother’s account when there is already acquittal under the provisions of MCOC Act, further incarceration of the applicant is unnecessary. He shall, however, face trial.”
The bench while allowing plea, clarified that observations made by it are restricted to decision in bail plea and the trial court shall not be influenced by the same.
The court directed Obed to be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with sureties of like amount and asked him to surrender his passport before the special court within seven days of his release. It also directed Obed not to tamper with the evidence and also asked him to regularly attend the trial on every date, unless he is exempted.