The court recently found insufficient evidence against Joseph in facilitating the 2011 Pakmodia Street firing where Kaskar’s driver was slain — a role which he has been accused of playing in the killing of the MiD DAY investigations editor as well.
While discharging Joseph, the Special MCOCA court observed that what the prosecution considers ‘ gospel truth’ needs to be backed up with hard facts. The crime branch had proposed that Joseph was the one who had provided global SIM cards to both sets of killers, crucial in keeping contact with fugitive don Chhota Rajan.
Earlier this month, Bombay High Court had ruled in the matter that the mere act of obtaining SIM cards for an accused is not ground enough to implicate the procurer as being part of the conspiracy hatched by the accused.
Terming the prosecution allegations ‘ absurd’, the court had said, “ Even if it is assumed that the global SIM card provided by the accused was used to contact Chhota Rajan, it would be difficult to accept that the conspiracy to commit murder was hatched using the said SIM card.” Last week’s discharge order by the trial court now all but assures Joseph will also get bail in the J Dey murder case.
The hearing on the matter will happen in April.
However, a prosecutor said, “ It may not be so easy in the Dey case, as we have proof that Joseph was in touch with journalist Jigna Vora.” Police had said that it was through Joseph that Vora had contacted Chhota Rajan. Vora is currently out on bail. Joseph’s lawyers have always maintained that Vora was already in touch with Rajan before she met their client, and did not need his agency to contact the don.
Pakmodia St firing
Iqbal Kaskar’s driver, Arif Abubakar Sayyed, was gunned down around 9.30 pm on May 17, 2011 by two men at Pakmodia Street. Two bystanders were also killed in the hit. A key accused in the case, Umed ur Rehaman Shaikh, police said, was in constant touch with Chhota Rajan through a global roaming SIM card supposedly provided by Joseph.
The SIM card ( 447924557105) was recovered from Shaikh. Another SIM card ( 447924557108) was used by Satish Kalia, allegedly the main shooter in Dey’s murder.
SIM card number 447924557120 was recovered from Paulson. According to police, the three cards were used to keep in touch with Rajan and are a part of a set of 10 purchased in Dubai. Joseph had been tied to the murders solely on the statement of one Ravi Rakketesar, who claimed to have delivered the SIM cards to Joseph’s driver, Ashok Kunder.
Joseph’s lawyer Rajendra Rathod had argued that there was nothing in the chargesheet to show Joseph’s link to either Rajan’s syndicate or the other accused. Rathod told the court that Joseph was innocent.
‘No link with Rajan’
In discharging Joseph, Judge PK Chavan observed, “ There is nothing on record to show that at any point of time, the accused had any communication or nexus even indirectly, with the rest of the accused, much less, the head of the organised crime syndicate of Chhota Rajan.” He added, “ Use of the said SIM card in the telephone instrument can be said to be incidental and the conspiracy to commit murder would have nothing to do with it. Only because the accused had obtained ten global roaming SIM cards... would not ipso facto connect him with organised crime syndicate of Chhota Rajan. I say so because except this, there is absolutely nothing on record to show that the accused in any manner had actual knowledge of the SIM cards being used by the coaccused in communicating with Chhota Rajan or for conspiring.
It cannot even be prima facie said that the accused had in any manner rendered any assistance to the organised crime syndicate.” Paulson Joseph.