Chopper case: Bail for suspected Dawood aide Romesh Sharma (Lead)

October 18th, 2011 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Tuesday granted bail to don Dawood Ibrahim’s alleged frontman Romesh Sharma in a case related to forcibly taking possession of a helicopter owned by a Mumbai-based businessman in 1996. The chopper was seized from a country villa in south Delhi.

Justice V.K. Shali said: “Accused Romesh Sharma is granted bail on furnishing of personal bond of Rs.20 lakh and two surities of the like amount.”

The helicopter belonged to H. Suresh Rao, who had given it on lease to Sharma in 1996 for using it in the latter’s election campaign in Uttar Pradesh. Sharma allegedly refused to return the chopper after receiving it.

The chargesheet said that the accused adopted “coercive means in getting documents prepared under deception or threat to get the ownership (of the helicopter) transferred into Sharma’s name”.

The court had Sep 27 reserved its order on Sharma’s bail plea.

The criminal case was filed against Sharma in 1998 and he has been in judicial custody since then.

In January 1999, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheeted accused Sharma’s brother Harish Mishra and his associates Avtar Singh Ahluwalia, M.D. Bhojwani, Naveen Budhraj, Indermani, Vinod Kumar Luthra, Laxman Singh, Manoj and Avdhesh on charges of robbery, dacoity, causing hurt, abduction and criminal conspiracy. They all got bail from different courts.

According to the CBI, Sharma contacted Rao March 3, 1996 and said that he wanted to hire his chopper for his election campaign in Phulpur constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Sharma contested the election as an independent candidate.

The chargesheet said that Rao quoted hire charges of Rs.80,000 per day. Apart from this, he mentioned additional charges for insurance, transport, two air tickets, a jeep that was supposed to carry the fuel and an Ambassador car, which added up to around Rs.13 lakh.

On March 27, 1996, Rao dispatched the dismantled helicopter in two trucks along with fuel.

The CBI said that three of Rao’s employees accompanied the trucks along with Sharma’s representative.

Mishra reportedly called up Rao and asked if it was possible to sign a hiring agreement for the helicopter due to the financial limits fixed by the Election Commission for poll candidates.

“He dishonestly induced Rao to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for Rs.30 lakh and promised him that it would be destroyed once the election process is over,” said the chargesheet.

Sharma is also said to have got a “non-judicial, ante-dated” MoU signed by Rao that purportedly sold the chopper to him. Sharma dishonestly induced Rao to sign the stamp paper, the CBI said. “Rao signed it in good faith”.

Sharma allegedly used the helicopter beyond the agreed time limit, which was April 12, 1996. After this, Rao asked his representatives to dismantle and dispatch the chopper to Mumbai. According to the CBI, it was at this point that Sharma and his henchman forcibly took the helicopter in their custody.

The helicopter was allegedly taken to Sharma’s Jai Mata Di country villa in south Delhi’s Chattarpur area May 14, 1996.

The CBI said that on the same day, Rao came to Delhi to meet Sharma, who refused to return the helicopter or pay the hiring charges.

Sharma allegedly threatened Rao by referring to don Dawood and other “bhais” (underworld operatives) of Dubai.

The chargesheet said that Rao was forced to transfer the helicopter to Sharma’s name and the relevant documents were forcibly taken by Luthra. Rao was aslso forced to sign another document which stated that he had been fully paid for the chopper.

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