A designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court Wednesday came down heavily on the Navi Mumbai Police and said its escort teams were getting “overly friendly” with accused persons.
The court also rejected the Navi Mumbai police’s application seeking permission to hand cuff extradited gangster Abu Salem while being ferried in and out of jail. The police had claimed Salem was making plans to escape from the court.
In its application to handcuff Salem, the Navi Mumbai Police had cited the incident of suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Mutalib Usmani’s escape from the court. TADA judge Sanap observed, “Salem is escorted by ten officers including a police inspector, a sub-inspector and eight constables. Two officers are armed with sophisticated carbines and AK- 56. Others carry their revolvers. If reports are considered at face value, it appears ten officers deployed to escort Salem to court are either not capable of taking care of the accused or the accused is a powerful superhuman that he would manage to run away despite heavy deployment.”
The court also added that escort police have been seen getting over-friendly with the accused. “I have observed police escorts get friendly with the accused and are seen mingling with them. If they grant such concessions and opportunities, the accused is bound to take advantage. If police act free, the accused is bound to take liberty,” the court said.
If the police still has a certain apprehension and still has a reason to believe that Salem could escape, the court said, “Bring those specific apprehensions on record for the court to decide.”
In a detailed order, Special Judge G A Sanap observed, “Salem, who is safeguarded under the treaty signed between Indian and Portugal has not exhibited any act of indiscipline, misbehavior or misconduct ever.”
Salem who was brought to India on November 11, 2005 is facing eight trials across the country and is regularly taken to courts outside Maharashtra.
The court has rapped jail authorities in the past for shifting Salem from Taloja Central prison, where he is presently lodged, to Thane prison without its permission. The court had then observed that the move was arbitrary and struck down the police’s decision to shift Salem out of Taloja prison.