Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its order on a plea by gutka barons Rasiklal Dhariwal and Jagdish Joshi challenging issue of non-bailable warrants against them by a special court in a case of alleged nexus with the underworld.
Justices Ajay Khanvilkar and U D Salvi asked CBI to file written arguments by September 24 and told Rasiklal Dhariwal of Manikchand gutka brand and Jagdish Joshi of Goa gutka label to give written submissions by October 4.
The warrants were issued in June 2006 by a MCOCA court as Dhariwal and Joshi were reported to be in Dubai and not available to CBI. Since then their whereabouts are not known. Oral arguments by CBI and the two gutka manufacturers concluded on Friday with CBI claiming it has enough evidence to show that Dhariwal and Joshi had helped underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in establishing gutka business in Pakistan.
Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambata and special public prosecutor Raja Thakre submitted that CBI has proof to show that the duo had gone to Karachi to meet Dawood
to settle some business dispute. "It was during this meeting that Dhariwal had agreed
to part with his formula for making gutka and give it to Dawood to help him start a gutka manufacturing unit in Pakistan," CBI lawyers submitted.
Sushil Kumar and Shirish Gupte, lawyers for Dhariwal and Joshi respectively, argued that CBI wanted the duo in its custody without possessing any evidence against them.
The gutka barons contended that charge sheet had been filed in this case and investigations going on since last five years without yielding any results, while CBI submitted that they intended to file additional charge sheet against the duo but they were scuttling the process.
Defence lawyers argued that MCOCA was invoked against the duo as they were implicated by an accused Rajesh Pancharia. However, Pancharia had been acquitted and therefore the case against the gutka barons would not stand. Joshi`s lawyer Sirish Gupte argued that even it is assumed for the sake of argument that both had approached a member of organised crime syndicate, it was not a case of continuous offence as stipulated under MCOCA.
Dhariwal`s lawyer Kumar argued that the FIR, lodged on October 10, 2004, did not mention anything about the underworld nexus. CBI, however, claimed that it was during interrogation of co-accused that it learnt about the duo helping Dawood, by sending gutka pouch-making machines to Pakistan via Dubai. The defence lawyers also demanded copy of the sanction letter obtained by CBI from competent authority to prosecute the gutka barons under MCOCA so that Dhariwal and Joshi could challenge the order.
CBI, however, refused to part with the sanction letter saying the charge sheet had not yet been filed against the duo.