Mumbai police officer Sachin Vaze has been sent to the custody of the National Investigation Agency till 25th March by a court in South Mumbai for further probe in the recovery of explosives from a car near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence.
He was arrested on Saturday, 14th March 2021, by the NIA where he confessed his involvement after a 12-hour long interrogation. He was brought to court after his visit to a local hospital for his medical examination.
The NIA while requesting Vaze’s custody submitted to the Court that they had received information about his involvement in placing gelatin sticks found in the parked SUV near Ambani’s residence Antilia.
In the remand plea, the NIA substantiated their claim by submitting witnesses’ statements requesting custody for custodial interrogation to collect evidence and expose the conspiracy.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis questioned Vaze’s frequent contact with a Thane car décor businessman Mansukh Hiren who was also the owner of the explosive-laden SUV found at Carmichael Road led to a breakthrough in the case after which an FIR was filed.
The case was transferred to NIA after the dead body of Mansukh Hiren was found in a creek who had claimed that his SUV was stolen a week earlier. His wife also claimed that the same SUV was taken by the officer in November and returned in February the first week. However, during the interrogation by the NIA, he denied using the SUV.
Sachin Vaze has been arrested under section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 286 (intelligence conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (forgery), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit sea, etc with intent to commit forgery), 506(2) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of Explosive Substances Act.
Vaze’s advocate Sudeep Pasbola stated that the arrest has been made solely on suspicion and that there is a lack of concrete evidence against Vaze.
He said, “The court remanded Sachin Vaze till March 25, but kept the matter for further hearing on Monday. The Court has asked the NIA to show what evidence it has collected and what is the state of the investigation.”
Another defense lawyer, Sunny Punamia also submitted that Vaze’s arrest is completely illegal and that no prima facie case can be established from the FIR.
He stated, “The argument placed before the court was that the accused has been arrested solely based on suspicion and no prima facie case is established in the FIR. Therefore, if no prima facie case is established, on a bare reading of the FIR against the accused, the detainment and arrest of the accused itself is completely illegal and even one day’s incarceration of the accused would be violative of his constitutional rights.”
The 49-year-old Assistant Police Inspector of Mumbai Police was one of the original ‘encounter specialists’ alongside Daya Naik and Pradeep Sharma. He is accredited with the elimination of 63 alleged criminals in encounters.
He was suspended in 2004 over his involvement in the custodial death of 2002 Gorakhpur blast suspect Khwaja Yunus after which he had quit the force. He was reinstated after 16 years in 2020.