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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Mumbai: ‘Issues’ with probe conducted by Waze, NIA tells court

Mukesh Ambani's Antilia residence security scare case probe was initially being conducted by the Waze-led Crime Intelligence Unit before the state government transferred it to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and subsequently the NIA took over the probe last week.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: March 16, 2021 12:07:57 am
Sachin Waze newsAssistant police inspector Sachin Waze was questioned on March 8 and he denied the allegations levelled by Hiran's wife(PTI)

THE NIA informed a court on Monday that there were “issues” with the investigation being conducted by suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Waze, who was initially probing the security scare at Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia residence. Waze was arrested by the NIA on Saturday.

The security scare case probe was initially being conducted by the Waze-led Crime Intelligence Unit before the state government transferred it to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and subsequently the NIA took over the probe last week.

NIA Superintendent Vikram Khalate told the court that when the case diary of the initial probe was perused, “serious objections” were found, including the way seizures were done, and it was found that memoranda were not “prepared properly”.

The NIA said that clarification was sought from Waze and supervisory officers were summoned for clarity. The NIA claimed that Waze “started telling something else” when asked about the case diary and other issues.

The NIA informed the court on Monday that it had summoned Waze on Saturday to record his statement in his capacity as the previous investigating officer in the case and not as an accused, but was placed under arrest on the basis of evidence that came before it during the probe.

The NIA also said that Waze was summoned to appear before the NIA office in Mumbai situated near the Ambani residence at 11 am on Saturday. Waze reached the office at 11.30 am but did not carry his cell phones. The court remarked if Waze knew he was being arrested.

Waze’s lawyers Sudeep Pasbola and Sunny Punamiya submitted that Waze was kept in illegal custody for over 10 hours before he was shown to be formally arrested at 11.50 pm on Saturday. They also claimed that the NIA did not inform Waze’s family members are required by law.

Waze was arrested late Saturday and produced in court on Sunday, and sent to NIA custody till March 25.

The NIA countered the claim, stating that Waze had not cooperated with the probe, and at the time of his arrest, when officers asked for contact numbers of his family so they could be informed as per law, Waze did not give any numbers. The NIA officers said that they then called the department (Citizen Facilitation Centre) at which he had been posted since his transfer from the CIU last week.

Waze’s lawyers also claimed that the NIA had not informed him of his right to legal counsel, to which special public prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves said it sounds “illogical” that a police officer requires to be told about this.

The defence team also raised concern over the fact that there were no CCTV cameras in the NIA’s interrogation room as required by law. The Special PP submitted that the NIA office had CCTV cameras but the interrogation room had video recording facility but not audio. The court directed the NIA to submit this in writing on Tuesday. The NIA also said Waze was not taken to the interrogation room but was questioned in the office of its superintendent, which does not have CCTV cameras.

The NIA had on Sunday claimed it had received inputs on Waze’s role in the placement of gelatin sticks in the Scorpio car found near the Ambani residence and sought his custody to probe who else was involved in the conspiracy.

Waze’s lawyer said the arrest was illegal and he was protected from arrest under Section 45 (2) of Criminal Procedure Code, which provides protection from arrest for anything done in discharge of official duties by a category of officials as notified by the state government.

The court will continue to hear arguments on Waze’s behalf on Tuesday.

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