It’s an “unrevealed mystery”, a court here noted on Mumbai Police’s failure to trace for 20 years an alleged sharp shooter of Chhota Shakeel gang in a 1999 murder case, even as the accused was an undertrial prisoner lodged in jail for some of this period in another case. Special judge for the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) cases, A M Patil, made the observation in its order passed on February 3 while acquitting Mahir Siddiqui, accused of the killing Wahid Ali Khan, president of the Bombay Aman Committee, in 1999.
The court cited multiple discrepancies in the prosecution’s case. As per the prosecution, Siddiqui and a co-accused had allegedly shot dead Khan near his house in L T Marg area of Mumbai in July 1999. The duo fled the spot after committing the crime.
In May 2019, police traced Siddiqui and arrested him. They got sufficient evidence against him and thereby filed a chargesheet against him. During investigation, police found the involvement of six persons, including Siddiqui and Chhota Shakeel.
They also found that the crime took place at the behest of Chhota Shakeel, police had said.
The court in its order said at the time of filing the supplementary chargesheet against Siddiqui, the prosecution claimed he was absconding since the date of the incident till his arrest.
But he was an undertrial prisoner in another case between 2014 and 2019 and he was arrested by the CID. Then how police failed to trace him when he was in jail, the court asked.
“Police failed to find him, though they maintain the record of the absconding accused and UTP (undertrial prisoner). It is an unrevealed mystery for the reason best known to the police agency,” the judge said.
Further underlining discrepancies in the prosecution case, the court said no alleged eyewitnesses claimed to have seen the accused at the time of firing at the deceased.
The testimony of the informant is surrounded by many doubts and does not corroborate with other witnesses, the judge observed.
The court also said the police failed to prove the recovery of the pistol by which Khan was shot and did not recover the motorcycle on which the accused fled away after committing the crime.
The material evidence of confession made before magistrate has also came under the clouds of doubt because the accused “specifically denied” giving any such statement, it said. ”Considering the above discussion, it can be certainly said that the prosecution failed to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt,” the court observed.