SC Grants Bail to Former Cop Pradeep Sharma in 2006 Fake Encounter Case

SC Grants Bail to Former Cop Pradeep Sharma in 2006 Fake Encounter Case

The Supreme Court granted bail to convicted former cop Pradeep Sharma on Friday in connection with a fake encounter case from 2006.

Following the counsel's statement from the Maharashtra government indicating no objection to the grant of bail, a bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Prashant Kumar Mishra passed an order to this effect.

Sharma was directed to surrender within a week before the Greater Mumbai sessions court to apply for bail, subject to terms and conditions, as per the directive.

The present appeal stemmed from the Bombay High Court's decision on March 19, wherein Sharma was convicted in the fake encounter case and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The case originated from the encounter killing of Ramnarayan Gupta, also known as Lakhan Bhaiya, purportedly a member of Chhota Rajan’s gang. Gupta and his associate were apprehended on November 11, 2006, in a suburb of Mumbai. Tragically, Gupta met his demise on the same day in what authorities later determined to be a staged encounter.

The case was registered in 2009 following the findings of a special investigation team, which uncovered that a rival had allegedly paid the police to eliminate Gupta. The formation of the SIT was prompted by a High Court directive instructing the registration of an FIR.

After a lengthy five-year trial, a sessions court in Mumbai acquitted Sharma in July 2013. However, the court convicted 21 individuals, including 13 police personnel. Among them, three policemen were found guilty of murder, while the remaining 18 were convicted for abetment.

The State government challenged the acquittal order before the High Court, asserting that the encounter had been staged. Simultaneously, police officers also filed appeals contesting their convictions.

After an extensive hearing, the High Court ultimately found merit in the State's submissions and convicted Sharma. Additionally, it upheld the convictions of 12 other police officers and a civilian, Hitesh Solanki.

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Gauri V Godse of the High Court overturned the session court's order acquitting Sharma. This decision prompted Sharma to file an appeal before the apex court.

In April, the Supreme Court requested the Maharashtra government's response to Sharma's plea challenging his conviction and life sentence in the 2006 fake encounter case. Additionally, the apex court granted Sharma an exemption from surrendering until further notice. Today, Sharma was granted bail after the state agreed to the request. Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi and Sidharth Luthra represented Sharma, while Senior Advocate R Basant appeared for the deceased's brother, and advocate Siddharth Dharmadhikari represented the State of Maharashtra.

Previously, Sharma made headlines when he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the Antilia bomb threat and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiren in 2021. He was granted bail in that case by the Supreme Court in August 2023.

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