Terming the conduct of criminal trials in the city ‘atrocious’, the Bombay High Court yesterday hauled up the prosecution in the Lakhan Bhaiya encounter case for dragging its feet. The case involves the 2006-encounter killing of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya, in which seven persons, including encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma and senior inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi were arrested.
Justice RC Chavan was hearing the bail plea of Manoj Munna Mohanraj alias Mannoo, an associate of Sharma, who was allegedly present in the vehicle that was used to kidnap Gupta from his home. Gupta was then allegedly transferred to another vehicle, shortly before being murdered.
Commenting on the conduct of criminal trials, Chavan observed that they frequently started at 2.45 pm, though court working hours start at 11 am. “This is a practice prevalent only in Mumbai, and it is atrocious. The prosecution must have a time-bound program for the conduct of trials, and complete them expeditiously,” said Chavan in his order.
Special Public Prosecutor Vidya Kasle in her submission to the court said it was impossible to have a program where a fixed number of witnesses were examined on a day-to-day basis, as advocates for the defence kept taking adjournments. She also blamed the overburdened dockets of judges for the constant delays.
Mannoo’s lawyer Hiten Venegavkar said, “Since the past seven months, just three witnesses have been examined. But in the two years before that, 45 witnesses were examined. There are 45 witnesses still left.” Meanwhile, all the accused continue to languish in jail. The matter has now been adjourned till June 18.
The Lakhan Bhaiya case
On Nov 11, 2006, alleged Chhota Rajan aide Lakhan Bhaiya was killed in an encounter at Versova. At the time of his death, Gupta had 19 cases registered against him, including 12 murders. The team was headed by then-senior inspector of Versova police station, Pradeep Suryavanshi.
The deceased's brother, advocate Ramprasad Gupta filed a petition seeking an inquiry into the incident. The petition contended that Gupta was picked up by a police team from Vashi at noon on Nov 11, 2006, and it was not possible that he could have been killed in an encounter the same day at 8 pm near Nana-Nani park in Versova.
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