Helicopter grabbing: Sharma held guilty but walks free

Gangster Romesh Sharma,convicted on charges of criminal conspiracy,cheating,extortion and possession of robbed property

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: July 24, 2012 2:09:03 am

Gangster Romesh Sharma,convicted on charges of criminal conspiracy,cheating,extortion and possession of robbed property,was sentenced to a jail term of 10 years along with a fine of Rs 17.15 lakh in a 1996 helicopter grabbing case by a Delhi court on Monday.

Taking notice of the fact that Sharma has already spent over 13 years in jail as an undertrial,the court allowed him to walk free on payment of the fine.

His co-accused Harish Sharma was allowed to walk free after payment of a fine of Rs 1 lakh as he had already spent more than 10 years in jail as an undertrial.

The court had sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment.

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Jain said that the “benefit of section 428 of CrPC” was given to them. The provision allows for the time period spent in jail as an undertrial to be adjusted with the sentence awarded.

Of the amount realised from the duo Rs 15 lakh was given as compensation to the owner of the chopper. Mumbai-based H Suresh Rao,owner of a Bell-47 helicopter,had alleged that Romesh Sharma had hired his chopper for an election campaign in 1996,but due to restrictions imposed by the Election Commission had asked him to prepare documents showing the sale of the helicopter. The documents were to be destroyed after the polls. However,Sharma refused to return the chopper and forcibly kept it in his farmhouse in Delhi. The case was transferred to the CBI in 1998.

Six others were sent to jail for three and a half years with a fine of Rs 10,000 each in the same case. Avtar Singh Ahluwalia,M D Bhojwani,Naveen Budhiraja,Manoj,Avdhesh and Indermani were convicted for forcibly taking away the chopper. Co-accused Laxman Singh,convicted for kidnapping and criminal intimidation,was awarded three years of rigorous imprisonment and slapped with a fine of Rs 15,000. He has been allowed to file an appeal before the High Court and his sentence has been suspended till September 15 since he has already spent two years in jail.

The court asked the police to return the helicopter to its owner.

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