Delhi High Court quashes designated lower court's order against the underworld don

Allowing a Delhi Police petition against the slapping of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act charges on underworld don Abu Salem, the Delhi High Court on Friday quashed an order by a designated lower court here on framing the charges under the Act.

Quashing the lower court order of August 28, 2009, Justice V.K. Shali said: “The petition of the Delhi Police is allowed. The order dated August 28, 2009 passed by the designated lower court is set aside. The state is permitted to withdraw the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA).”

Salem is facing prosecution in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. The city police had sought dropping of the charges in the backdrop of the Lisbon High Court in Portugal and later the Supreme Court there terminating the extradition of the underworld don for breach of the extradition conditions by India by booking him under MCOCA.

The police argued that the charges against the underworld don were framed by the local court here despite argument by the investigating agency that it was against the terms and conditions of Salem's extradition to face trial in the Mumbai serial blasts case of 1993.

Salem had also filed a petition seeking dropping of the MCOCA charges against him. The Court declared his petition infructuous in view of the order passed on the Delhi Police petition, saying that “there was no need to pass an order on his petition.”

The police argued that according to the conditions for Salem's extradition from Portugal, he could be awarded the maximum punishment of 25 years of imprisonment by Indian courts while under MCOCA he could be even be awarded death sentence.

Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005. He was booked under the MCOCA by the Delhi Police for allegedly making extortion calls to a Delhi-based businessman, Ashok Gupta, in 2002.

Among the conditions under which Salem was extradited from Portugal to India was that he cannot be awarded the death sentence or tried under any special law and can only be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years of imprisonment.

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