Encounter Specialist Pradeep Sharma Sentenced to Life Imprisonment by Bombay HC
Moneylife Digital Team 19 March 2024
The Bombay High Court (HC), on Tuesday, sentenced Mumbai's former encounter specialist police officer Pradeep Sharma to life imprisonment in the case of the fake encounter killing of Lakhan Bhaiya in 2006. The HC also upheld life imprisonment awarded to 13 others, including 12 police personnel, in the case. 
According to a report from LiveLaw, the division bench of justice Revati Mohite Dere and justice Gauri Godse asked Mr Sharma to surrender within three weeks.
"All the circumstances led by the prosecution, right from the formation of the police squad, wrongful confinement, criminal abduction and fake encounter, has been proved."
However, the HC lamented the 'gruesome' death of sole eye witness Anil Bheda days before his deposition in 2011, calling it a 'shame' and a 'travesty of justice' that the prime witness lost his life, but no one is booked to date. It hoped that Mr Bheda's perpetrators would be prosecuted.
On 11 November 2006, the team of Mr Sharma allegedly abducted and later killed Vashi resident and gangster Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya in a staged police shooting at Versova.
Regarding Mr Sharma, the sole accused to be acquitted by the trial court, the division bench says all circumstances were overlooked by the trial judge and the finding of acquittal 'perverse' and 'unsustainable' by ignoring and excluding relevant material. "The circumstances point towards the guilt of Pradeep Sharma," the court says.
The special investigation team (SIT) alleged the encounter was led by Mr Sharma, who conspired with Lakhan Bhaiya's disgruntled business partner to bump him off.
However, in July 2013, Mr Sharma was acquitted, while three other policemen -- inspector Pradeep Suryawanshi, inspector Dilip Palande, and constable Tanaji Desai -- were convicted of murder.
Earlier in 2021, Mr Sharma, a controversial former senior police inspector and later a politician from Shiv Sena, was detained by the national investigation agency (NIA) in connection with the cases of SUV planting near Antilia, home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani and murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran.
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