Mumbai: The special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Thursday asked the dean of BJ Medical College and Sassoon Hospital, Pune, to constitute a board to examine former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma and submit a comprehensive report on his health status in 10 days. In June 2022, the NIA arrested Sharma in connection with the Antilia explosives scare and the murder of Thane trader Mansukh Hiran.
The order came on a plea filed by the NIA, seeking the constitution of the board for the retired police officer’s examination, as he has been admitted to the hospital for several months.
The federal agency claimed that Sharma was fit and has been misusing the hospital facility under the guise of ailments. Besides, the special court also received a letter from Pradeep Suryawanshi, former police inspector, who has been convicted for his role in connection with the Lakhkhan Bhaiya encounter case. He alleged that Sharma had been misusing the facility of the hospital.
The plea was opposed by Sharma’s counsel, Abad Ponda, who argued that there was no provision in the constitution of the board for the medical examination of a person except for a person with a learning disability. They also filed a plea for shifting him to a private hospital for further treatment.
Ponda added that the letter seemed to have been written by a former officer who had been convicted in the Lakhkhan Bhaiya encounter case. “There is a rivalry in the force and the letter is written by a police officer who would do anything to make Sharma’s life miserable. The officer (who wrote the letter) has a grudge as Sharma is acquitted of the encounter case but he and others have been convicted. Hence the letter has been written to the court,” Ponda argued.
The court, after hearing both sides, ordered the dean of Sassoon Hospital to constitute a committee of expert doctors and submit a report in 10 days on Sharma’s health status.
Sharma was arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder of Thane trader Mansukh Hiran – the owner of the explosive-laden SUV which was found abandoned near Antilia – the South Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
In its chargesheet, NIA claimed that the prime accused in the case – dismissed Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze – paid “a huge amount in cash” to Sharma. Waze had allegedly taken Hiran’s SUV, planted 20 loose gelatin sticks in it and parked the vehicle outside Antilia.
NIA further claimed that Waze had on March 3, 2021 – a day before Hiran’s murder – allegedly met Sharma outside the office of his charitable trust, Pradeep Sharma Foundation, in Andheri (East), and handed over a rexine bag containing a large amount of cash (bundles of Indian currency notes of ₹500 denomination), the contract money to get Hiran eliminated.