PUNE, Oct 27: Designated TADA court judge Ashok Rane today observed that Ulhasnagar MLA Pappu Kalani and six others could not be charged with the Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in the cases pertaining to the murders of Ghanashyam Bhateja and Inder Bhateja.
The judge also ordered that both the cases should be transferred to the District and Sessions Court at Thane for trial of the seven accused under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.
The orders come in the wake of a petition moved by the defence counsels Harshad Nimbalkar, Shrikant Shivade and P D Sawarkar praying to the court that the TADA charges against Pappu Kalani, Narendra Ramsinghani, Mohammed Arshad Taher Shaikh, Kimmat Kalani, Shyam Kishore Garikapatti, Richard Robert Fernandes and Ramchandra Bacchi alias Shitala Prasad Pande should be dropped.
Ghanashyam Sundardas Bhateja was gunned down on the road in front of Hotel Pinto Park at Ulhasnagar on the morning of February 27, 1990. Inder Bhateja, who had been provided police protection, was shot dead at the office of his Anant Production Burners factory at Ulhasnagar on the afternoon of April 27, 1990.
MLA Pappu Kalani was arrested and slapped with the charges of killing Ghanashyam and Inder Bhateja in 1992. His six associates were charged with murder and criminal conspiracy under sections 302 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as relevant sections of the Arms Act and sections 3 and 5 of the TADA.
Vijay Savant and N D Pawar, who appeared for the prosecution claimed that Ghanashyam Bhateja's uncle Gop Behrani was having a long drawn rivalry with Kalani over political reasons. Besides, they pointed out, Ghanashyam and Inder Bhateja were suspected to be involved in killing Pappu Kalani's uncle Dubichand Kalani at Ulhasnagar in 1989.
The prosecution alleged that Kimmat Kalani and two others had opened fire at Ghanashyam and Inder Bhateja near Hotel Pinto Park on February 27, 1990. While Inder Bhateja succeeded in ducking, the prosecution said, some bullets pierced through Ghanashyam's body causing his death. According to the prosecution, Inder Bhateja was shot down at his office in Ulhasnagar on April 27, 1990.
Two separate cases were registered in this connection. Separate charge-sheets was filed against Pappu Kalani and his associates in the court of the Designated TADA court judge in Pune in 1993 in both the cases.
The panel of defence counsels argued that the murders were a fallout of a long drawn rivalry over political and personal reasons. The defence lawyers also claimed that the creating terror was not a motive behind the murders. While citing a ruling by the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case, they argued that Pappu Kalani and his associates had been falsely charged with the TADA.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.