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The Delhi High Court Thursday reserved its order on a Delhi Police plea seeking withdrawal of charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against don Abu Salem in a 2002 extortion case here.

Salem, extradited from Portugal in 2005, was booked under the act for allegedly making extortion calls to Delhi-based businessman Ashok Gupta, demanding Rs.5 crore as protection money.

Justice V.K. Shali was told by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval, appearing for Delhi Police, that if charges under the MCOCA against Salem were not dropped, the reputation of India at international fora will be harmed.

At the time of Salem’s extradition from Portugal six years ago, India had given an assurance to that country that he would not be given a death penalty or charged under any section of law which entails jail for more than 25 years.

Ravel said: “We will spoil our credibility at international fora and this case will be cited as an example to show that this country does not follow it own commitments.”

The Supreme Court of Portugal recently rejected India’s appeal and cancelled the extradition of Salem, saying the CBI had violated the extradition treaty between the two countries.

The court in Portugal accused the Indian agencies of violating the conditions under which he was permitted to be taken to India in November 2005 to face trial in eight cases, including the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

A trial court in 2009 dismissed the police plea seeking to withdraw charges under the MCOCA against Salem.

Delhi Police earlier told the high court that India will approach the Portuguese constitutional court to challenge the Portugal Supreme Court’s cancellation of Salem’s extradition.



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