Esplanade court rejects Advani's bail plea, says police need more time to probe
Says Esplanade court as it rejects bail plea of Shifa Advani, accused of involvement in father Ejaz Lakdawala's extortion racket
The Esplanade court on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of gangster Ejaz Lakdawala's daughter Shifa Advani after the Mumbai police's Crime Branch contended that she might tamper with the evidence and even flee the country using forged identities.
Investigating officer Ajay Sawant told the court that they have evidence of her involvement in Lakdawala's extortion racket. Advani, who is in judicial custody till January 22, was in contact with her father through seven calling apps, using different identities like Imran, Rafique and herobbhai7867, said the officer. The prosecution also submitted her call records in the court.
"The accused was in constant touch with her father. The call records show a strange pattern; Advani used to receive calls from her father soon after he made extortion calls to some of the complainants. We suspect her involvement in six more cases. Collecting technical details take a lot of time and if she is released on bail, she might tamper with the evidence," Sawant told the court. He added that they are looking into 82 extortion complaints filed across city against Lakdawala.
He said they still have to ascertain some of her fake identities that she had used in the past to travel abroad and might use one of those to flee the country if she gets bail. The Crime Branch's Anti-Extortion Cell, which is probing the case, also informed the court that they have obtained call recordings from her mobile phone, which need to be examined.
"We have seized her mobile phone and there is lot of material on it that we are investigating and trying to unlock several apps that have been used to contact Lakdawala... Some apps were also used to send money to her. This extortion racket is not only restricted to Mumbai, but has spread all over the world and we are at very initial stage of the investigation," Sawant told court. The defence lawyer D S Manekar argued that Advani "cannot be punished just because she is Lakdawala's daughter".
"There is not a single case against her. She has been talking to her father out of love and affection. She has nothing to do with his criminal activities," he told the court.
The court, however, observed that "it's a very serious offence and sufficient time should be given to the investigation agency to complete its inquiry" and rejected the bail application. But it granted her bail in the fake passport case for which she was first arrested from the airport on December 28 last year.
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