The Bombay high court on Thursday called for transcripts of telephone calls purportedly between senior police officers and some accused in the murder case of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Loharia.
Loharia was murdered on February 16 outside his office.
A division bench of justices PV Hardas and Sadhana Jadhav asked additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamath-Pai to produce the call records of Navi Mumbai police commissioner (CP) AK Sharma (in pic), builder Suresh Bijlani and architect Anurag Garg.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar seeking probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Loharia’s murder.
Seeking a CBI probe, Tirodkar has alleged in the PIL that some officers were shielding the accused.
On a query from the judges, Pai replied that statements of senior police officers were yet to be recorded. She also said steps were being taken to declare the absconding accused as proclaimed offenders and attach their properties to compel them to appear before the court.
However, Tirodkar pointed out that no such information was put on the websites of the Mumbai police and Interpol to trace the absconding accused.
The HC has also asked Pai to submit the details about the steps taken to trace the absconding accused.
According to Tirodkar’s PIL, when Sandeep, Loharia’s son went to the CP’s office on February 16 to lodge a complaint, Bijlani and Garg were allegedly sitting in his cabin.
The next day, there were five conversations between CP, Bijlani and Garg ranging from 80 seconds to 100 seconds, alleges the PIL. Despite the duo being available, the CP issued a look-out notice against them on February 18.
Bijlani has been arrested but Garg is absconding.
Tirodkar said no effort was being made to conduct a sincere probe as senior police officials are allegedly involved. He alleged that efforts were being made to shield the guilty. Hence, he was demanding a CBI probe into Loharia’s murder.
The petitioner said Loharia had himself filed a petition in the high court alleging 600 illegal constructions in Navi Mumbai, including the 21 towers being built illegally on the Palm Beach Road.
Loharia had also urged the court to hear his petition expeditiously as his life was in danger. Four days later he was killed, Tirodkar said. He also produced a letter written by Loharia to the court registrar.
Tirodkar alleged that Loharia’s son had also received a threat over phone warning him against lodging a police complaint.
The petitioner said that Loharia was being pressured by a Maharashtra cabinet minister asking him not to take up the issue of illegal construction.