The Thane police that had booked actor Mamta Kulkarni in connection with the Ephedrine drug bust case of 2016 have primarily relied on the statement of a co-accused, Jay Mukhi, to prove her involvement in the case, a reading of the fourth chargesheet reveals.
However, Mukhi, on whose deposition before a magistrate the police relied, had made an application later to retract the statement alleging it was made under duress. The police filed the fourth chargesheet in the Ephedrine drug bust case against Kulkarni and alleged drug lord Vicky Goswami in October last year. The chargesheet was made available to the lawyers of the accused earlier this month.
In April 2016, the police raided Avon Lifesciences Ltd, a Solapur-based pharmaceutical company, and arrested at least 14 persons and named five others as wanted accused. The five wanted accused included Kulkarni and Vicky Goswami, the alleged mastermind of a drug racket. The police said Kulkarni had attended a meeting of Goswami and his aides in Hotel Bliss in Kenya on January 8, 2016, where details of how Ephedrine from Solapur was to be used to make Meth and sold in the US, were discussed.
Special public prosecutor Hirey said: “We have a statement of a co-accused recorded before a magistrate that says she did attend the meeting at a hotel where the drug deal was discussed.” When it was mentioned that co-accused Jay Mukhi had later made an application to retract his statement, Hirey said: “It depends on the court whether to consider the application or not.”
The police suspect that the accused had planned to use Ephedrine, a controlled substance, that can be misused to make the party drug Meth, from Avon Lifesciences Limited. The Ephedrine was to be diverted to Kenya, where it would be used to make Meth to be sold in the US.
The police had earlier filed three chargesheets alleging the role of the other accused, and filed the chargesheet against Kulkarni and Goswami, wanted accused and proclaimed offenders, in October. During the first press conference held by Thane police on April 27, 2016, the force mentioned that Kulkarni was present in the hotel meeting.
In a press conference on June 18, 2016, the police said a move was under way to make Kulkarni one of the directors in Avon Lifesciences by transferring shares in her name at a cheap rate. The fourth chargesheet has not added any evidence about the meeting or the share transfer.
Investigating officer Bharat Shelke, who retired as assistant commissioner of police, said, “We have mentioned in the chargesheet that she did attend the meeting and was part of the conspiracy.” He, however, said that they could not procure footage from the hotel to verify her presence there.
In the chargesheet, the police have attached e-mails between Kulkarni and a bank manager giving instructions to make payments. In some of these emails, the sender begins the mail addressing Vicky Goswami. “This proves that Goswami was handling the finances and communicating on behalf of Kulkarni,” Shelke said.
Zulfiqar Memon, Kulkarni’s lawyer and managing partner of MZM Legal, said: “Just because my client has an arrangement with Goswami they have named her as an accused. However, they themselves have realised that there is no evidence against her as can be seen from the chargesheet.”
As evidence against Goswami, who is facing trial in the US for drug trade, the police have added voice transcripts of Goswami provided by the US Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) in which he is discussing the drug trade. The Thane police have added the WhatsApp chats of Goswami and two other accused, Mukhi and Manoj Jain, in which the police believe the accused are discussing the logistics of the trade. The police have also mentioned the roles of the accused in the statements attached to the previous three chargesheets in the matter.
Currently, while Kulkarni is believed to be in Kenya and Goswami in US custody, the other accused are still lodged at the Thane central prison awaiting trial.