Mansukh Hiran death: No interim bail to police officer Waze; NIA records tatement

Mumbai: Troubles mounted for Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze, who has been facing heat in the murder case of businessman Mansukh Hiran, as a sessions court in Maharashtra's Thane district has refused to grant him interim bail and noted that there was prima facie evidence and material against him.

In a related development on Saturday, recording of Waze's statement by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the last month's recovery of gelatin sticks and a threat letter from an SUV, a Scorpio, which was found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in Mumbai, is going on at its office since noon, an official said.

The assistant police inspector reached the agency's office at Cumballa Hill around 11.30 am, the official said.

Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the SUV had claimed that it had been stolen a week earlier, but the case took a new turn when he was found dead in a creek in Thane on March 5.

In his application seeking pre-arrest bail on Friday, Waze said the FIR registered by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) didn't name name any person. He termed the FIR as "baseless and without any motive", saying it was a result of a "witch- hunt".

Additional sessions Judge Shailendra Tambe, in the order that was made available on Saturday, refused to grant interim bail to Waze and said his custodial interrogation was required.

"This court is not agreed to grant interim bail to the applicant (Waze) because there is prima facie evidence and material against the applicant. The custodial interrogation of the applicant is necessary," the order said.

Waze's lawyer A M Kalekar had sought the court to grant the police officer interim protection from arrest on the ground that he was cooperating with the investigation. Additional public prosecutor Vivek Kadu, however, opposed and argued that the probe in the case was at a crucial stage.

The court, while refusing interim bail, noted that the charges in the case include section 302 (murder), section 201 (destruction of evidence) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, which are serious offences.

"This court has found that on February 27 and 28, 2021 the deceased Mansukh Hiran was along with the applicant in Mumbai," the court said.

It added that Hiran's wife in her complaint has specifically taken Waze's name. "The informant (Hiran's wife) has made direct allegations against the applicant in the FIR. Hence, this court has come to the conclusion that the investigation is at initial stage," the court said.

It directed the investigating officer of the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), which is probing the case, to file an affidavit in reply to the plea, and posted it for hearing on March 19.

Waze had claimed that at the time when Hiran went missing and was allegedly killed, he was at Dongri in south Mumbai.

He had filed the plea under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in the Thane district sessions court.

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