Yusuf Lakdawala​ case: Court accepts closure report against Chhota Rajan

MUMBAI: The Central Bureau of Investigation opposed Chhota Rajan’s bail plea in the Bombay High Court on Wednesday and said the gangster had no respect for the country’s laws.

Special Public Prosecutor Pardeep Gharat told a single bench presided over by Justice Anuja Prabhudesai that Rajan had multiple cases pending against him and was convicted and sentenced in a host of other cases.

Gharat urged the high court not to grant bail to Rajan, saying the gangster was a “Z plus security threat”.

He said Rajan had fled India and travelled to several other countries on fake names and passports before he was finally arrested and extradited to India in November 2015. Rajan was extradited from Indonesia in 2015 and has been in judicial custody at the Tihar prison in New Delhi since then.

Gharat was making submissions opposing an interim application filed by Rajan, seeking bail in a case of attempt to murder a hotelier.

Rajan was sentenced to imprisonment for eight years in the case by a special court in Mumbai in 2019 under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

However, Rajan’s counsel, senior advocate Sudeep Pasbola, told the HC that there was no credible evidence against the gangster in the case.

“I (Rajan) have been convicted on the charge of conspiracy only. All the other accused persons in the case, including those who were actual assailants, have been out on bail, so I deserve parity,” Pasbola told the HC.

“There is no direct evidence against me. Only a hearsay statement by two witnesses, which was not based upon their personal knowledge, was cited as evidence against me. These statements were based on information given by one of their co-accused, who is absconding,” Pasbola said.

Gharat, however, told the HC that while Rajan was in the CBI’s custody in the case since April 2016, his co-accused, who were granted bail, were in custody since 2009. Besides, Rajan still had 14 to 15 cases pending against him, Gharat said.

“The present applicant has no respect for the law of India. He absconded to various countries. He was travelling under fake name and fake passport. He was arrested after his real identity was discovered. And then, he was brought to India in 2015,” Gharat said.

“He (Rajan) has 71 cases against him before the CBI…14-15 (cases) are still pending. He has been convicted and sentenced in 12 cases and awarded life imprisonment in one of these cases,” he said.

Justice Prabhudesai directed the CBI to submit before the HC a copy of the FIR, the confessional witness statements in the case, and a list of Rajan’s criminal antecedents.

The HC will continue hearing the plea after two weeks.

On July 14, Justice Prabhudesai had admitted for hearing a bunch of pleas and interim applications filed by Rajan, seeking bail and challenging convictions in three cases.

In two of these cases, Rajan, whose real name is Rajendra Nikalje, was convicted for attempt to murder.

Rajan was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in the case of attempt to murder hotelier BR Shetty in August 2019.

He has also challenged a special CBI court’s order sentencing him to two years’ imprisonment in January 2021 in a 2015 extortion case.

He has also appealed against his conviction and sentence of 10 years, pronounced by a court in March this year, for attempting to kill builder Ajay Gosaliya.