The Supreme Court has granted bail to former Mumbai Police officer Pradeep Sharma, who was arrested in connection with the Antilia bomb scare case and the killing of businessman Mansukh Hiren, saying he has strong roots in Mumbai and would be available to stand trial.
On February 25, 2021, an explosives-laden SUV was found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence ‘Antilia’ in south Mumbai.
Businessman Hiren, who was in possession of the SUV, was found dead in a creek in neighbouring Thane on March 5, 2021.
Sharma along with police officers Daya Nayak, Vijay Salaskar and Ravindranath Angre was a member of the Mumbai Police’s encounter squad that killed over 300 criminals in numerous encounters. Salaskar had died during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
Dismissed police officer Sachin Waze is the main accused in the Antilia bomb planting case and the killing of Hiren.
Sharma was arrested in the case in June 2021.
A bench of justices A S Bopanna and P S Narasimha said Sharma is alleged to have conspired with Waze and others to eliminate Hiren which is a matter of circumstantial evidence to be proved by the prosecution.
“Though the High Court has arrived at the conclusion that the appellant being a retired police officer, there is the likelihood of interference in the course of trial, in our opinion the fact that he was a police officer and has retired after rendering 37 years of service is a factor which should weigh in favour of the appellant as he has strong root in Mumbai and would be available to stand trial,” the bench said in an order uploaded on Thursday.
The apex court noted there was no adverse report about Sharma’s conduct while he was out on interim bail.
“Further, he would also be aware that violating any of the conditions of bail would be detrimental to his own interest. In addition, it has also been urged before us that he has his mother aged about 93 years to care for, his wife who is also not enjoying good health has to undergo a reversal of bariatric surgery,” the bench said.
The top court said it had taken note of this aspect for granting him interim relief but the operation advised could not be performed during the short period he was out on interim bail.
“Therefore, if all the above aspects are kept in view, we are of the opinion that in the present facts, taking note of the role assigned to the appellant as also the circumstances stated to connect the appellant to the crime and also the fact that the charge sheet has already been filed, there would be no purpose in continuing the appellant in custody.
“We are therefore of the opinion, that the appellant is to be released on bail subject to appropriate conditions being imposed by the trial court and the appellant diligently adhering to the said conditions and participating in the process of trial,” the bench said.