This happened without the court’s permission while it was still in session. The accused, Devidas Sakpal, who is facing murder charges, has been attending court hearings on a daily basis.
As the court continued to be in session, Sakpal walked out with constable Santosh Bhosale, attached to the Mumbai Police’s Local Arms wing, and entered the shopping centre around 4.30 pm. Before stepping into the shopping center, Bhosale handed over his rifle to another constable who then stood vigil outside the entrance.
Sakpal was seen shopping for eatables in the gourmet section of a leading retail chain, before picking up a few T-shirts from the men’s apparel section. He also made the payments with cash stacked in his wallet, which accused are not allowed to carry without proper court permission.
According to a source from the court, no such permission was granted to any accused by the judge. “No application was made before the court to either go to a shopping mall or carry money,” said a senior legal officer.
According to the prosecution, Sakpal was one of the seven constables in a police team that killed fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan’s alleged aide Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya on November 11, 2006. Gupta had 19 cases registered against him, of which 12 were related to murders.
Although the incident dates back to 2006, a case was registered only in 2008 following a Bombay High Court order for magisterial inquiry into the encounter. In August 2009, the magistrate submitted a report which said Lakhan Bhaiyya had, in fact, been murdered in cold blood. The HC later formed a Special Investigation Team which arrested Sharma and other police officers.
As many as 22 persons — seven police officers, seven constables and eight civilians are facing trial in the case.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Local Arms) Vijay Chavan said an immediate inquiry would be constituted against the constables. “This is shocking. I will immediately look into the matter and if need be, suspend them. An example has to be set,” Chavan said.
The sessions court at Kalaghoda, which is surrounded by several shopping outlets, sees many high-profile accused during daily court proceedings. Although a court’s permission is a must for any accused to get edibles from outside jail premises or to make calls from outside, accused are often seen eating at places or making calls from telephone booths nearby. In other cases, several letters have been written to the court seeking strict action against the Local Arms constables who escort the accused to the court and help them in exchange for bribes.
Devidas Sakpal walks out of sessions court with constable Santosh Bhosale around 4.30 pm
Sakpal goes to a shopping centre where Bhosale hands over his rifle to another constable
Sakpal shops for eatables and later buys a few T-shirts
He makes payments in cash, which accused are not allowed to carry without court permission