A special court in Mumbai today extended the NIA custody of Sachin Vaze till 7 April after the investigating agency said it has recovered “incriminating material” against the suspended police officer.
Last month, the NIA had recovered evidence including laptops, DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) and a CPU in damaged condition from the Mithi river in Mumbai’s Bandra.
The NIA told the court that it needed to examine the evidence recovered during its probe and would require further custody of Vaze.
The NIA arrested Vaze for his role in allegedly planting an explosives-laden SUV near the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani. He is the key accused also in the alleged murder of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran, who was the owner of the SUV and was found dead in a creek a few days after the security scare incident.
During the hearing, the NIA said certain “incriminating material” was taken out by someone from the joint locker of Vaze and his aide, who is also a suspect in the case, from a bank located in the Versova area in Mumbai. The agency did not specify whether it was Vaze who took the material.
The NIA told the court that Vaze was seen moving near the “scene of the crime” on March 4, a day before Hiran’s body was found.
The NIA told the court that a Mercedes car was seized on 2 April.
The agency had also recovered a diary from a club in south Mumbai mentioning that a “huge amount” had been paid to Vaze.
The agency told the court it had found the passport of an unknown person at Vaze’s house and needs his further custody to identify that person.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh told the court Vaze held a joint bank account and a joint locker with his accomplice.
The bank account had Rs 26.50 lakh on the day of Vaze’s arrest on 13 March. The cash was found to be withdrawn on 18 March, Singh told the court, adding that some “incriminating material” was also found to be taken out from the bank locker.
Seeking Vaze’s custody for another six days, Singh said the NIA needed to trace the incriminating material that went missing from the bank locker and also wants to find out who was using the Mercedes car seized on April 2 and under whose instructions.
Some incriminating material was also seized during the search conducted at the house of former policeman and co-accused Vinayak Shinde, Singh said, adding the NIA will confront Vaze with the recovered evidence.
The NIA also needs to examine the CCTV footage data it had seized during the investigation and needs to confront Vaze and other accused with it.
Opposing the NIA’s plea, Vaze’s lawyer Abad Ponda argued that the agency could seek remand of the accused under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention (UAPA) Act after the lapse of 15 days. However, the NIA has not mentioned a single ground seeking the extension of Vaze’s custody under the UAPA in its remand application, he said.
Ponda rejected the NIA’s contention that Vaze held a joint account in the bank in Versova. He demanded that the NIA show the bank account opening form with the name and signature of the accused, which the agency rejected.
Referring to the recovery of electronic devices from the Mithi river in Mumbai by the NIA, Ponda said as it was a huge river and anyone can dump anything into it. He said the NIA had planted these devices into the river, which it later showed as being recovered during the investigation. He said Vaze had nothing to do with these materials recovered by the NIA.