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Antilia bomb scare and businessman Mansukh Hiran death case accused Naresh Gaur will be in prison for five more days despite getting bail as the Bombay High Court will hear the National Investigation Agency or NIA’s appeal on December 15.

Gaur, an alleged cricket bookie from Bhuj who is accused of arranging fake SIM cards for the other accused in the February-March 2021 case, had been granted bail on November 20. However, the special NIA court which had granted him bail stayed its order for 25 days so that NIA could appeal against the order.

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Gaur’s lawyers Shirish Gupte, Aniket Nikam, Ashraf Diamondwala and Noorain Patel had approached the single bench of the Bombay High Court against the stay. Advocate Sandesh Patil representing the NIA had opposed the maintainability of the plea, saying that cases related to the NIA Act have to be heard by a division bench. However, the single bench of Justice Sandeep K Shinde set aside the stay and asked for Gaur to be released from prison.

However, the NIA’s appeal filed against Gaur being granted bail came up for hearing before the division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Sarang Kotwal on Friday. The bench noted that Patil was standing on the side where the prosecution generally stands. The bench reminded him, “You are for the appellate; perhaps as a matter of habit, you are standing there.” Patil went on to the other side of the bar and informed the court about the case.

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Patil said that the charge sheet is filed in the case and the main allegation is against former encounter specialists Sachin Vaze and Pradeep Sharma. However, he added that Gaur had volunteered to get fake SIM cards from Bhuj and one of the SIM cards was used to threaten a victim in the case. Gaur was arrested in March 2021 and booked under Section 120B (conspiracy) and 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property). Unlike seven others in the case, Gaur was not booked under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Patil said, “However, the judge did not look at the fact that section 120 B is also invoked and it is not just section 403 which is bailable. Section 120 B makes an accused equally responsible for the act done by the prime accused in the cases.”

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The lawyers explained about the stay being set aside by Justice Shinde’s bench. At this, Justice Kotwal asked, “NIA cases go before division bench right because of the Supreme Court order?” Patil pointed out that they had mentioned this before Justice Shinde, and in spite of it, the order was passed. Justice Jamdar, in the meantime, asked Patil to argue on the merits while saying, “Our power is independent of that. We have the power of stay, so you argue on stay.”

Gupte got up and said that Gaur had been in prison since March and the lower court had considered the merits before granting bail. “Am (Gaur) willing to give an undertaking that in case the appeal is allowed, then I will surrender. 22 days have passed since the bail has been granted and I am not able to come out. I have a family and a one-year-old child and am a permanent resident of Bhuj,” said Gupte, adding that they were going to move the special NIA court to seek a modification of the bail condition. Gaur wants that he be allowed to come out on furnishing cash bail.

However, the bench said that they wanted to hear the appeal filed by NIA on its merits and since that would take some time, it could not be heard right away on Friday. So, the bench proposed that since the “accused is still in jail, let him be there.” The bench asked Gaur’s lawyers to “Hold your hands and not press on that application for cash bail.”

The case will now be heard at 2.30 pm on December 15.

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India today

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