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Monday, April 19, 2021

Special court rejects Waze’s plea to meet lawyer in private

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), in whose custody Waze is till March 25, told the court that he has not been cooperating with the probe and is insisting for his lawyer's presence during the interrogation.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: March 19, 2021 10:17:30 pm
Ambani security scare: Sachin Waze asked Vikhroli cops to stop probe into Hiran car theft, investigation findsSachin Waze, after being produced by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a court following his arrest, in Mumbai. (PTI/File)

A special court on Friday rejected an application filed on behalf of suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Waze, seeking to meet his lawyer in private during non-interrogation hours.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), in whose custody Waze is till March 25, told the court that he has not been cooperating with the probe and is insisting for his lawyer’s presence during the interrogation.

The special court had earlier this week allowed Waze’s lawyer to remain present in the NIA office during his interrogation, separated by a glass partition, at a visible distance but outside hearing range.

On Friday, senior counsel Abad Ponda, appearing for Waze, submitted that it was his fundamental right to be allowed legal counsel and sought for one of his lawyers to be permitted stipulated time with him at the NIA office during non-interrogation hours.

Ponda further said the conversation between Waze and his lawyer will have to remain private and investigating officers cannot be privy to it.

Special public prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves submitted there were “temporary restrictions” on the liberty of a person in custody and privacy with a legal counsel cannot be claimed as a general right. He added that the basic purpose of police custody will be frustrated, if the accused is allowed to meet his lawyer while he is in custody.

The court while rejecting Waze’s plea said its earlier order passed on Wednesday where the lawyer’s plea to remain present during interrogation was rejected.

Interestingly, the NIA too sought the presence of Waze’s lawyer during the interrogation stating that the lawyer’s absence was hindering their questioning of Waze.

SPP Gonsalves also submitted to the court that the chief investigating officer was finding it “difficult” to interrogate Waze and had been waiting since Friday morning for his lawyer to appear so that the interrogation can continue. He said the investigation was held up after Waze insisted his lawyer to be present.

Waze’s lawyer, Sajal Yadav, through an email to the NIA office, had claimed that while he left the NIA office at 1 am on Friday and asked the officials to inform him when the probe is restarted, the NIA did not communicate with him at all.

The email said he was present when Waze was being questioned for 20 minutes on March 16, for over nine hours on March 17 and over eight hours on March 18.

The court was told that Yadav was staying at a hotel at five-minute distance from the NIA Mumbai headquarters so that he can rush to the office when the interrogation is resumed but he was not informed.

The court rejected the NIA’s plea seeking directions for his lawyer to remain present throughout the interrogation.

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