A SPECIAL court has rejected the discharge application of gutkha baron J M Joshi booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for alleged links with underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim. The court, however, discharged another accused, Rajesh Panchariya, of all charges. Panchariya was discharged from charges including extortion, criminal conspiracy and other sections of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). Joshi’s co-accused, Rasiklal Dhariwal, founder of Manikchand Group, died last year in October.
The case against him was abated. The case dates back to 2004 and was transferred to the CBI in 2005. A supplementary charge-sheet against Joshi and Dhariwal was filed in 2016. Also named as accused in the case are Dawood and his brother Anees Ibrahim.
The CBI, in its chargesheet, claimed that Dhariwal was associated with Dawood since 1996. The agency claimed that a dispute over money arose between Dhariwal and Joshi, his former business partner, who had branched out to start Goa gutkha brand. They allegedly took the dispute to Dawood for a settlement. The agency also claimed that the two had gained monetary benefits from Dawood. One of the main allegations that the CBI has made against the accused is that the two helped Anees Ibrahim set up a gutkha manufacturing unit in Pakistan.
CBI prosecutor, Pradip Gharat, submitted before the court that Joshi could not be discharged from the case as he is one of the main accused. Among the evidence cited by Gharat is the statement of one of Joshi’s former employees, who had told the CBI that he was taken to Pakistan and kept there till he helped in setting up the machinery of the gutkha manufacturing unit.
Joshi, through his advocates, had countered the claim by stating that he was a victim of circumstances and that he was threatened by the organised syndicate. Gharat, however, submitted before the court that he could have approached the police if he had received threats.
The CBI had also opposed the discharge application of Panchariya, who, the CBI claimed, had sold the machinery to set up the gutkha unit. The court, however, discharged him of all charges since the prima facie evidence of his involvement was not enough. Gharat said the court will now frame charges against the accused.