CBI defends Abu Salem’s extradition

January 16th, 2009 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday defended its stand on why it had opted for underworld mobster Abu Salem’s extradition instead of deportation from Portugal in 2005.”The government had tried to get Abu Salem, who was found carrying fake travel documents, deported but the Portuguese authorities declined, making it clear that he could only and only be extradited,” A.K. Vali, appearing for the CBI director, told the Additional Sessions Judge Pinky.

Taking note of Delhi Police’s argument that the CBI’s action to extradite Salem had forced them to approach the court for dropping the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charges against him, the court had on July 5 last year issued notice to the CBI director to clarify the stand of the probe agency.

“Salem, who was holding a Pakistani passport, could have been deported to any country after his arrest. The intention was to ensure that he should not escape our law,” said Vali, justifying the government’s move.

The then Natinal Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had given an executive assurance to Portugal that after Salem’s extradition he would be tried only in nine cases and will not be awarded imprisonment exceeding 25 years.

Countering the CBI’s argument, former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh said the reply of the probe agency was vague and it did not deal with the circumstances under which Salem was extradited.

“Had we been able to avoid such a small mistake, we (Delhi Police) would not be in a situation seeking dropping of MCOCA charges against the gangster,” Singh submitted.

The issues of deportation and extradition are dealt with diplomatically and an agency like CBI, which handles Interpol related matters, does not take all the decisions, CBI’s counsel countered.

The court, which heard the arguments, fixed the next hearing on Feb 5.

Salem is facing MCOCA charges in connection with an extortion call made to city-based businessman Ashok Gupta in 2002, demanding Rs.50 million as protection money.

He was extradited from Portugal in 2005 in three cases - the 2003 Mumbai blasts, forged passport cases in Lucknow and Hyderabad, three extortion cases and a conspiracy to murder case in Delhi, and the Pradip Jain and Ajit Dewani murder cases in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, another court issued a warrant against the gangster for Feb 24 for making threatening calls to Rajat Nagrath, owner of Allied Communication of East of Kailash in the capital, demanding Rs.10 million in 2002.

Three other accused C.P. Rai, Sadiq Ali and Istiyaq Ahmed were however, present in the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja, who asked the Mumbai jail authorities to present the gangster on the next date of hearing.

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