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Friday, June 9, 2023

Court rules out illegality in Sachin Vaze arrest, remands him to NIA custody till March 25

NIA court rejected the plea by ex-Mumbai police cop Sachin Vaze and held that his arrest by NIA (National Investigation Agency) was not illegal. Further, the court also rejected his claim that no prior government sanction was sought for his arrest since his actions were part of his duty as a police officer.

NIA court rejects Vaze’s illegality plea

While handing over Vaze’s custody to NIA, Special NIA judge Prashant Sitre held that the accused as well as the concerned police station had been provided information of his arrest and therefore, the grounds of the arrest had already been made known to the arrest.

“The question whether the respondent 1 [Vaze] acted in the course of performance of duties and/or whether the defense is pretended or fanciful can only be examined during the course of the trial” the judge stated while granting permission to Vaze’s lawyer to be present at a distance during interrogation.

NIA arrests Vaze

The Antilia bomb scare case took an interesting turn following the arrest of Vaze on March 13 after the case was transferred to NIA post the death of Mansukh Hiren, the Thane-based businessman whose stolen SUV with 20 gelatin sticks was found parked near Antilia. Vaze was then suspected to have masterminded the bomb scare episode.

report by Hindustan Times stated Sachin Vaze is believed to have orchestrated the Antilia bomb scare in order to recover his lost glory as claimed by NIA officials investigating the case. They also quoted the anonymous official as saying, “Vaze himself was driving the Scorpio car on February 25, while an Innova that belongs to Mumbai police tailed it. After parking the Scorpio on Carmichael Road, Vaze sat in the Innova and left”.

NIA seizes Mercedes driven by Mumbai cop Vaze

National Investigation Agency on Tuesday evening seized a black color Mercedes Benz which it said was used by arrested Mumbai police official Sachin Vaze. Inspector General, NIA, Anil Shukla said the agency also recovered the number plate of the stolen SUV Scorpio, which was parked outside the Ambani residence. Besides the Mercedes, the NIA also seized Rs 5 lakh cash, a currency note counting machine, and some clothes. Shukla added that Vaze used to drive this car and the ownership of the high-end vehicle is being ascertained.

Did key officials help Sachin Vaze tamper evidence, fudge records?

In addition to interrogating Vaze, NIA is also looking into the role of Vaze’s Mumbai police unit that picked up his housing society’s digital video recorder (DVR) and CCTV footage while probing the case. Tampering of evidence relating to crucial CCTV footage and fudging records of an official vehicle parked at the Mumbai Police headquarters indicate connivance of a few senior officials, highly placed sources in a central agency revealed.

During preliminary investigation, it was found that while the Innova was driven out of the Commissionerate office on the night of executing the crime(February 25), no entries of the vehicle’s movement were logged on the registers. As per official norms, the government vehicle’s exit and entry have to be logged in a register whenever it moves in and out of office.

Another crucial piece of evidence that puts Vaze in the dock is the registration of an FIR of the stolen SUV(Mahindra Scorpio)at the Vikhroli police station. NIA officials suspect that the SUV was never stolen. The vehicle was being used by Vaze and was parked at his residential society. After the execution of the crime, Vaze has reportedly taken away the Digital Video Recorder(DVR) to seize the CCTV footage of the SUV parked at his society. Before registration of an FIR, the Vikhroli police failed to do due diligence on the whereabouts of the SUV, which was reportedly in Vaze’s possession.

To verify Vaze’s presence at the scene of the crime, which links him with the sequence of events leading to the parking of the explosives-laden SUV at Antilia, advanced forensics techniques might be used by the NIA. Sources said that at the scene of the crime, the footage of a man wearing a PPE kit has been captured by the camera. It was suspected that the man wearing the PPE suit was Sachin Vaze.

Investigators were to use the forensic podiatry technique to identify the suspect. In podiatry forensics, the footprints and walking patterns of a criminal are studied to identify the suspect. If this test corroborates Vaze’s presence on the spot, the report could nail the encounter specialist.

However, as per the latest reports the staff of Sachin Vaze is believed to have confirmed to the NIA that the man spotted in the PPE kit was indeed Vaze. The staff has also revealed that Vaze later destroyed the PPE kit. The National Investigating Agency officials have recovered a shirt from Sachin Vaze that was allegedly worn inside the PPE kit.

In view of all this, the NIA had submitted in the court that it needed to take Vaze into custody in order to conduct a detailed investigation and establish the co-conspirators in the case. An India Today report says:

The NIA remand papers further said that “there is sufficient prima facie evidence to show the involvement of the accused in the conspiracy of a commission of the crime. That the conspiracy angle needs to be thoroughly investigated by the investigation officer and identity of the co-conspirators needs to be established by way of sustained inquiries with the accused while he is in police custody.”

The special NIA court has taken cognizance of the submissions by the central agency and keeping in view the crucial stage at which the investigation which is currently underway is, it has granted NIA 12 days custody of Vaze until 25 March.

(With IANS inputs)

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)

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