NEW DELHI: Police cannot invoke stringent provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) without proof of the accused working as members of an organised crime syndicate, a Delhi court has said while acquitting eight persons in a murder case.
Additional Sessions Judge Gautam Manan pulled up Delhi Police for booking the accused persons under MCOCA and said the stringent provisions cannot be invoked only on the basis of their previous involvement in criminal cases. "Prosecution has invoked the stringent provisions of MCOCA against the accused only on the basis of their involvement in the cases previously registered against them," the court said.
"The investigating/prosecuting agency cannot be permitted to invoke stringent provisions of MCOCA just on the basis of previous involvement of the accused without any further proof that they have been working as members of an 'organised crime syndicate' indulged in 'organized crime'," the judge said. The court passed the judgement while acquitting Amit, Sunder, Sandeep Kumar, Neeraj, Naresh, Rajesh, Krishan and Savinder in a case involving the murder of Jai Prakash in February 2006, who according to police was gunned down by contract killers following a land dispute.
Police said Amit was arrested in May 2006 in another case and disclosed that he had received Rs two lakh in advance from Jai Prakash's nephew Sandeep, who had a land dispute with him. It said the contract to kill Prakash was set for Rs 10 lakh and as per the plan, the victim was eliminated when the accused fired on him when he was travelling in a car.
During the trial, the accused, who were represented through advocate Pradeep Rana, claimed before the court that they were falsely implicated in this case. In its charge sheet, police alleged that the unlawful activities of Amit were continuing with the help of his other associates in Delhi and neighbouring areas creating "havoc in public", following which it applied MCOCA against him and his 31 associates.
The prosecution said that a number of criminal cases were registered against the accused in different police stations and charge sheets filed in several cases. It said in most of the cases, the accused facing trial were chargesheeted together, which established that they were members of a crime syndicate.
The accused had told the court they were never involved in any organised crime and not gained any pecuniary benefits of being a member of organised crime syndicate. The court, in its judgement, said the probe agency did not conduct any significant probe in the case, except to collect the records of previous involvements of the accused.
It said the proposal for invoking MCOCA was sanctioned in mechanical manner as it was granted without verifying the fact that some of the accused had already died.
It also noted that no movable or immovable property could be located, found or ascertained in the name of these accused persons or in the names of their immediate relatives.
The court said the matters on which prosecution had based its case for invoking MCOCA were of offences under Arms Act, house trespassing and retaining stolen property, which did not fit within the four corners of provisions of MCOCA. Some of the accused were discharged by the court earlier while some were declared proclaimed offenders.