CBI court rejects Sachin Waze’s plea, says approver in custody can’t be granted bail

Stating that an accused-turned-approver in custody is required to be detained till the termination of the trial, the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of dismissed police officer Sachin Waze. He was arrested in the corruption case registered by the agency against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.

Though the court passed the verdict on Tuesday, a copy of the order was available on Thursday.

“The person who turns approver and who is granted pardon subjects himself to certain conditions, one of which is contained in section 306(4) (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The condition stipulates that unless the approver is already on bail, he shall be detained in custody till the termination of the trial,” special judge S H Gwalani said.

Deshmukh was first arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on November 2, 2021, on charges of money laundering. The ED’s case against the Nationalist Congress Party leader is based on the FIR registered by the CBI on April 21, last year.

The CBI had booked Deshmukh and others after former police commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged that the former minister had instructed certain police officers, including Waze, to collect 100 crore every month from Mumbai’s restaurants and bars.

Waze had accordingly collected 4.70 crore from the owners of orchestra bars between December 2020 and February 2021, and handed over the “extorted money” in two instalments to Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde.

In this case, the CBI named Waze an accused and arrested him on April 4. Two days later, Deshmukh was arrested. Subsequently, the dismissed assistant police inspector offered to become an approver and on June 1, he was granted pardon by the special court.

He then applied for bail claiming that he was entitled to be released on bail in view of the grant of pardon. His lawyer, Raunak Naik, submitted that after the grant of pardon he must be presumed to have been discharged from the case, as thereafter he ceased to be an accused and became a prosecution witness.

The CBI opposed the plea. Special public prosecutor Ashish Chavan for the agency said the case was covered under section 306(4) (b) of the CrPC, which says if an accused is in custody when he is granted pardon he should remain in custody till the conclusion of the trial.

The CBI court accepted the agency’s contention and said the provision appeared to be mandatory. “Going by the provision, an approver who has been granted pardon has to be detained in custody till the termination of the trial and cannot be granted bail before that,” the court said, adding, “The use of the word ‘shall’ in the provision shows that it is mandatory and the legislature has introduced a statutory interdiction against releasing the said person even invoking the inherent power.”

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