[Antilia Bomb Scare] Top Court grants three weeks interim bail to ex-cop Pradeep Sharma

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Notably, the High Court had in January 2023 denied bail to the former cop while noting that he is a retired officer and he might tamper with the evidence and that there is an appeal pending against his acquittal in an encounter case.

A vacation bench of the Supreme Court today granted three weeks interim bail to former cop Pradeep Sharma, allowing him to go see his ailing wife.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested Sharma in connection with the parking of an explosives-laden SUV outside Antilia, the residence of billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, and subsequent murder of a Thane-based car accessories shop owner Mansukh Hiran.

A division bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal noted that the medical certificate issued by the Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, dated 27 May, 2023 stated that Sharma's wife had been advised to undergo reversal of the Gastric Bypass surgery.

Considering the reason for which interim bail was prayed for, the bench directed that Sharma shall be released on interim bail on such conditions that the trial court may consider fit and proper, for a period of three weeks, to attend to his wife’s treatment.

"This matter shall be listed again on 26.06.2023. On that date the petitioner shall furnish a medical report disclosing therein the progress in the treatment of his wife", the bench has further ordered.

In January this year, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice RN Ladha had denied bail to the former cop observing that he is a retired police officer and can tamper with the witnesses. 

The court said,

“Considering the material on record, the same prima facie, points to the complicity of the appellant in the murder of Mansukh Hiren. The possibility of the appellant, a retired Police Officer, having clout, tampering with the witnesses, cannot be ruled out.”

The high court also said that though Pradeep Sharma was acquitted in an encounter case, an appeal has been filed which has also been accepted. The order read,

“It is also pertinent to note that the appellant was facing prosecution for the offences punishable under Sections 302, etc. in an encounter case. Although, the appellant was acquitted from the said offences, after a full-fledged trial, an appeal against acquittal of the said appellant has been filed by the State of Maharashtra which has been admitted.”

Former cop Pradeep Sharma was arrested along with Sachin Waze and others after a Mahindra Scorpio was found parked near Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia Building with 20 gelatin sticks and a note in the said car, threatening Ambani and his wife. Subsequently, it was found that the Scorpio vehicle which was found had a fake number plate and an FIR was registered by business Mansukhlal Hiren alleging theft of his vehicle.

The investigation of the case was assigned to Sachin Waze and Hiren was summoned by the police. When Hiren was summoned again, he met an officer after which he went missing. Subsequently, a missing complaint was filed against Manusukhlal Hiren and later he was found dead. Hiren’s wife filed a complaint alleging foul play and suspicion against Sachin Waze.

Subsequently, the State Government transferred the case to Anti Terrorist Squad Maharashtra and an FIR was registered against an unknown person in the Mansukh Hiren Murder Case. However, the case was then transferred to National Investigating Agency at the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

During the course of the investigation, it was found that Sachin Waze, along with other co-accused, including Pradeep Sharma, had committed heinous and serious offences attracting the provisions of the UAPA and hence, Sections 16, 18, and 20 of the UAPA, were invoked and were subsequently arrested.