Gangster Chhota Rajan appears for J Dey murder trial via video conferencing

Putting an end to the uncertainty over whether Chhota Rajan would be produced in the Special MCOCA court for the J Dey murder case, the gangster appeared for the hearing via video conferencing from Tihar Jail. He was informed that charges would be framed against him at the next hearing on January 19. However, there is still ambiguity about the anticipated transfer of all of Rajan’s cases to a separate, designated court.

Chhota Rajan’s cases are likely to all be transferred to a designated court. File pic
Chhota Rajan’s cases are likely to all be transferred to a designated court. File pic

The hearing for mid-day journalist J Dey’s murder began at 11 am, and special CBI prosecutor Bharat Badami was present along with the new CBI investigation officer in the case. The murder case is among the 74 that the Crime Branch has transferred to it. The case was registered by the CBI on Tuesday.

Judge A L Pansare asked the Crime Branch whether it had given a copy of the chargesheet to the CBI, to which the department replied in the negative. “It is your duty to give the chargesheet to the CBI,” said Judge Pansare, while pulling up the Crime Branch. The judge added that unless the chargesheet is served in the case, the charges could not be framed.

Special CBI prosecutor Badami informed the court that the probe was still in process and added, “We have to interrogate Rajan, with permission from the court. We also have to translate the documents.”

At 12:20 pm, the judge — along with the CBI officer and prosecutor, and the Crime Branch officer and prosecutor — went to a conference room to speak to Rajan. No one else was allowed in the room for security reasons.

However, sources said the judge spoke to Rajan in Marathi and began by asking him to give his name, to which he replied, “My name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje.”

The source said the judge also asked Rajan whether he was more comfortable moving to Mumbai for the trial or continuing via video conferencing. Rajan replied that he would discuss it with his lawyer. Further, Rajan sought time to appoint a lawyer and was granted the same.

Rajan was then remanded to judicial custody and informed that his next hearing would be held on January 19 and the charges in the case would also be framed on the same day. He was also told that he would face a joint trial with the other arrested accused.

Confusion
While a separate court was assigned to hear all of Rajan’s Mumbai-based cases, the Special MCOCA court said it had not received any communication about this from the CBI. “I have not received any order from the CBI,” said Judge Pansare.

Judge Pansare also asked the Crime Branch about this, to which Public Prosecutor Dilip Shah said that they hadn’t received any notification from the state government either, and had no information about whether the trial was being transferred.

The judge asked the CBI about its views on the High Court’s directive to expedite the case with daily hearings. To this, Badami said the CBI would follow the order.

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