Updated: December 4, 2017 1:41:03 am
SENIOR lawyer Ujjwal Nikam has finally revealed the reason behind his decision to quit as the special public prosecutor (SPP) in the Mohsin Shaikh murder case. Responding to a question during a programme on ABP Majha, a regional news channel, on November 30 Nikam blamed a “Member of Parliament” and a “journalist”, who had opposed his appointment as SPP in the case, after pointing out that he had been “felicitated by some Hindu organisations”. Nikam did not name either the journalist or the MP.
Following a request made by Nikam earlier this year, the state government had cancelled his appointment as SPP in the case. R V Chavan, the section officer, law and judiciary department, had passed an order in this regard on May 19, 2017. Mohsin, an engineer in a private firm, was attacked, allegedly by members of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, during communal clashes in Pune in June 2014. Days later, Mohsin succumbed to his injuries.
As per documents available with The Indian Express, which were procured by the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, on July 20, 2014, Hussain Dalwai, a Congress MP in Rajya Sabha, had written to then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, stating that Nikam should not be assigned the Mohsin Shaikh murder case.
Dalwai had asked Chavan to consider a demand made by Rashtrapremi Kruti Samiti, a social organisation.
Documents, obtained via the RTI process, reveal that Pune-based activist Anjum Inamdar, of the Rashtrapremi Kruti Samiti, had written to then CM Chavan and the state law department, on June 12, 2014. Inamdar had opposed Nikam’s appointment as SPP and claimed that the lawyer was “close to Hindu extremist groups”. When The Indian Express contacted Nikam on Saturday, he refused to comment on the issue. MP Hussain Dalwai, on the other hand, told this newspaper that while he “respects” Nikam, he “has his doubts” about the prosecutor.
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Nikam was appointed as SPP in the case after Mohsin’s father Sadiq Shaikh requested then CM Chavan to do so. In his interview to the TV channel, Nikam said, “I worked on the case for over a year… bail applications of all accused were rejected in the sessions court… one day, I got to know that a journalist and a MP had written to the government, with clippings of media reports… that ‘Ujjwal Nikam has been felicitated by Hindu organisations in the past, due to which he will not be able to do justice’…”
“I have been felicitated at many places in Maharashtra. I am not aware who is in the photographs with me… I got to know about these letters about a year after I started working on this case. They had written much earlier, but the government did not take any cognisance… on learning about them, I was apprehensive that even after working honestly, if the accused were acquitted, then the journalist and the MP would raise their voices and say they had already informed the government… so, with honest intentions, I resigned from this case and did not mention any reason…,” added the prosecutor.
“Mohsin’s father Sadiq Bhai called me up… he said he trusts me. He later approached CM Devendra Fadnavis too. But I explained my reason to the CM… he was shocked. He said my resignation will lead to criticism of the government. I said if that happens, then I would expose them (the journalist and the MP)….The CM then told Sadiq bhai they can ask for any other lawyer,” Nikam said, adding, “If anybody is hurting my self-respect, I will not tolerate it.”
Anjum Inamdar of Rashtrapremi Kruti Samiti, who had written to then CM Chavan in 2014, opposing Nikam’s appointment as SPP, said he was not aware of any “journalist” opposing Nikam. “I had opposed Nikam’s appointment in the Mohsin Shaikh murder case. In my letter to the then CM, I attached newspaper clippings of two functions. One of them showed Nikam being felicitated in Pune on July 19, 2010, at an event organised by the Savarkar Smruti Pratishthan, then headed by Himani Savarkar, the former president of Abhinav Bharat, a Hindu group, members of which are accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast.”
“MP Dalwai supported our demand. Nikam should have taken our objections as a challenge and fought the case, ensuring that the accused were convicted. But Nikam quit the case, because he never wanted to work on it honestly… some of the accused in the Mohsin Shaikh case did get bail in the sessions court, when Nikam was the prosecutor,” said Inamdar.
Meanwhile, Mohsin’s family had requested the appointment of advocate Rohini Salian as SPP. Later, lawyer Ujwala Pawar, the district government pleader in Pune court, appeared as SPP in the case.
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