In an embarrassment for the Mumbai police, the sessions court in Mumbai on Friday acquitted dismissed police officer Pradeep Sharma in a case relating to the encounter killing of an alleged aide of fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan while convicting 21 others.
Former senior inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi (who had led the encounter team), Tanaji Desai and Dilip Palande were convicted for murder in the Ram Narayan Gupta encounter case. A total of 21 persons, including 14 police officers, were convicted on various counts.
Judge VD Jadhwar acquitted Sharma, who is credited with gunning down over 100 criminals in encounters, for lack of evidence and the prosecution's failure to prove its case.
The court is likely to hear the arguments on quantum of punishment from Monday onwards.
Over 110 prosecution witnesses and 2 defence witnesses had deposed during the trial.
As per the prosecution, on November 11, 2006, a police team picked up Ram Narayan Gupta, alias Lakkhan Bhaiya, from neighbouring Vashi on the suspicion that he was a member of Rajan gang, along with his friend Anil Bheda, and killed Gupta in a "fake" encounter near Nana Nani Park in suburban Versova in Western Mumbai on the same evening.
It was also alleged that Bheda was initially detained at D N Nagar police station in Versova and was later shifted to Kolhapur. He was subsequently brought back to Mumbai and was detained for about a month.
Soon thereafter, Ram Narayan's brother, advocate Ramprasad Gupta, moved the Bombay High Court, alleging police had in fact murdered his brother. In February 2008, the High Court ordered a magisterial inquiry which concluded that it was a "cold-blooded" murder.