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Bail for Sahil in shawls case

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RESPITE: Sahil Zaroo, key accused in the shahtoosh shawls case, was granted bail by a local court in Mumbai on Tuesday.
RESPITE: Sahil Zaroo, key accused in the shahtoosh shawls case, was granted bail by a local court in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Staff Reporter

Accused can't be arrested twice for same offence: court

Nothing was recovered from Sahil: defence lawyerPlea for further police custody has no legal sanctity: judge

MUMBAI: Sahil Zaroo, co-accused with Rahul Mahajan in a drug abuse case in New Delhi, was on Tuesday released on bail in a shahtoosh shawls case after high drama in a court here.

When it passed an order releasing him on a cash bail of Rs. 25,000 earlier in the day, forest officers filed a separate complaint in another city court accusing him of sale and possession of the same shawls.

The court held this complaint and a plea for his custody unconstitutional and he was freed on a personal bond of Rs.10, 000.

"No need for remand"

Sahil was brought here on June 22 for the pending case on alleged sale of shahtoosh shawls, and was remanded to police custody. On Tuesday, defence lawyer Majeed Memon said that as no shahtoosh shawl was recovered and as his client was already in custody, there was no need for Sahil to be in police remand further.

Another defence lawyer Manoj Taneja said that as soon as Sahil was granted bail, a forest officer submitted an application in the other court seeking his custody under the Wildlife Protection Act. In the previous case he was accused of offences punishable under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty) and 380 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code.

The other accused in the case are his uncle Rafiq Mohammed and a shop employee Ilyas Khan. Both are out on bail.

Raid on shop

The case was filed after a raid in March on a shop, selling Kashmiri handicrafts, owned by Sahil's family. It was located in a five-star hotel in Mumbai. The police claimed that Sahil tried to escape with two of the shahtoosh shawls, allegedly kept for sale. Sale and possession of shahtoosh are illegal in the country.

After hearing arguments on the fresh complaint, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S.Y. Shisode said: "I have no hesitation in holding that an accused cannot be arrested twice for the same offence and cannot be remanded to police custody for investigation."

Pointing out that the incident and the material were similar to those mentioned in the previous case, the court said the plea for further police custody was "without any legal sanctity."

The defence lawyers said prosecuting the same accused for the same offence was violative of the Constitution.

The court noted: "The second offence is not at all justified and legal. It is against Article 20 (2), which has very specifically stated `a person shall not be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.'

Sahil was released with a direction that he attend the wildlife warden's office as and when required.


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