The Delhi High Court Friday pulled up Delhi Police for negligence while filing the chargesheet against underworld don Abu Salem under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) when it contravened the extradition pact with Portugal.
Appearing for Delhi Police, Additional Solicitor General Haren Rawal, seeking early hearing of the application, pleaded before Justice V.K. Shali that the court should allow them to withdraw charges under MCOCA against Salem.
“Otherwise the extradition of the accused would be in jeopardy,” he said.
This followed the Portugal high court’s decision in September to revoke the extradition of Salem. It accused 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.
“Why was the state lax when the chargesheet against Salem was filed under MCOCA and charges were framed in contravention of the extradition agreement? You are trying to take advantage of your own wrong,” said Justice Shali.
He added that Salem, now lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, should file his reply within one week.
Meanwhile, the court asked Delhi Police to file a compilation of all the orders issued by the Supreme Court, trial court and Portugal high court by Nov 8.
“Till that time the ongoing trial at different courts here is stayed,” said the court.
During the arguments, the court said Delhi Police should have taken such a stand earlier. “Suddenly when you are cornered than you came here.”
At the time of Salems extradition six years ago, India had given an assurance to Portugal that he would not be given death penalty or charged under any section of law which entails jail for more than 25 years.
Salem, extradited from Portugal in 2005, was booked under MCOCA for allegedly making extortion calls to a Delhi-based businessman Ashok Gupta in 2002 demanding Rs.5 crore as protection money.
Justice Shali asked Rawal whether the public prosecutor had told the lower court that Salem cannot be prosecuted under MCOCA.
Earlier, the lower court, in 2009, dismissed the plea of police seeking to withdraw charges under MCOCA against Salem.
Aggrieved, Salem approached the high courts at Delhi and in Portugal.
A three-judge bench of Portugal high court said that he be sent back to Portugal as the Indian authorities had breached extradition terms.