Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday slapped terror and murder charges against 10 accused in the sensational planting of an SUV with gelatin sticks near the house of industrialist Mukesh Ambani and the subsequent death of the vehicle owner Mansukh Hiran, officials said here.
The voluminous charge sheet, filed with the Special NIA Court in Mumbai, has named the 10 accused in the twin cases that rocked the nation after they came to light in February-March this year.
The accused are dismissed police officials Sachin H. Vaze and Vinayak B. Shinde, both from Thane, and Mumbaikars - Naresh R. Gor of Grant Road, Hisamuddin Kazi of Jogeshwari, Sunil D. Mane, Santosh A. Shelar and Manish V. Soni, all from Malad, Anand P. Jadhav and Pradeep R. Sharma, both of Andheri, Satish T. Mothkuri of Goregaon, said the NIA.
Taking a serious view of the twin cases which triggered a massive political row, all the accused have been slapped with Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to murder, cheating, conspiracy, besides various sections of the Arms Act, the Explosive Substance Act, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
"The NIA has taken very strong cognizance of the case given its ramifications. Besides the serious charges under IPC, they have also invoked terror charges against the accused," prominent criminal lawyer J.P. Mishra told IANS.
On the likely punishment, Mishra said that if proven guilty, the accused could face a maximum of life imprisonment since there was no explosion, and a minimum of life term or death sentence in the Hiran murder case.
The IPC sections span criminal conspiracy, destroying evidence to escape the consequences, negligence with explosives, abduction with intent to kill, extortion with threats of death or physical harm, grabbing property, criminal breach of trust by public servant, forgery and forging documents of electronic evidence to pass them off as genuine, possession of a fake seal to commit forgery, common intentions, etc.
"Under the UAPA, the NIA has invoked sections pertaining to terrorism, terror conspiracy and being members of a terror group. These are very serious charges slapped on the accused and attract heavy punishment," Mishra said.
The NIA has also referred to the three cases originally filed by the Mumbai Police at Gamdevi Police Station on the Scorpio SUV with explosives, planted on the intervening night of February 24/25 and discovered on the afternoon of February 25, along with a threat note issued to the Chairman of a top business group.
It has also taken note of the FIR lodged by Vikhroli Police Station pertaining to the theft of the SUV and the death case registered by the Mumbra Police (Thane district) after Hiran's body was recovered from the marshes of Thane Creek on March 5.
"During investigations, incriminating evidence came to fore against the 10 arrested accused involved in various stages of conspiracy of placing the explosive-laden SUV, its theft and commission of murder of Mansukh Hiran. Further investigations are on," said an NIA official.