As recently as 2013, a Delhi-based lawyer, who is also a Congress leader, communicated to his party leadership that underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim was ready to “return” to India.
Confirming this, top officials of the former UPA government said the “offer to return” was discussed at the “highest level” within the party and the government — two decades after Dawood first expressed his “willingness” to face trial in India, months after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
The lawyer, who is said to have discussed Dawood’s “offer” with at least two senior Congress leaders, was told it was too much of a “hot potato” and that the prospect of conducting a trial against India’s most wanted on his terms was too risky.
While Menon could not be reached for comments, The Indian Express received an e-mail response from Manmohan Singh in which he stated, “ I have no recollection of any discussion with any person regarding the return of underworld leader Dawood Ibrahim.”
But former officials said the “offer” was first conveyed to the Congress leadership and was later taken up for discussion in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The lawyer who initiated the discussion with the Congress leaders had handled several cases of the D-company and was said to have been in touch with Dawood and his immediate family members.
The sequence of events and circumstances leading to the “offer” in 2013 revealed that Dawood was suffering from a serious kidney ailment and was anxious to return to India to be with the rest of his family.
In 1993, when he was said to be in Dubai, his legal team had gone to the extent of getting him to sign a vakalatnama – it was dated November 1, 1993 – and a petition was drafted by his legal team to ask the Supreme Court to shift the Mumbai serial blasts trial to Delhi.
A series of legal consultations followed and the petition was never filed.
In the draft petition, accessed by The Indian Express, Dawood had criticised the Mumbai police, arguing that he “ wanted to prove (his) innocence” and was “shocked by the attempt by certain interested parties to include me in the Mumbai bomb blast case”.
Pointing to the “communally charged” atmosphere in Mumbai, the draft petition pleaded that the trial be moved “to a jurisdiction in which ends of justice would be better served and a fair and impartial trial can take place”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines