The Special Court dealing with cases being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has extended the remand of Mumbai cop, Sachin Waze in NIA’s custody till April 3, 2021, in connection with the case concerning the explosives-loaded SUV found outside billionaire businessman, Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai on February 25.
Before the extension of remand order was dictated yesterday, Waze requested the Additional Sessions Judge PR Sitre if he can make any submissions. When leave was granted, he said,
“I am being made a scapegoat. I have nothing to do with the crime. I investigated the case for as long as I was investigating officer and it was not just me, Mumbai Police Crime Branch officers also did what they had to. But suddenly some changes happened. I went to NIA on my own. And I was suddenly arrested. It is said that I have confessed to my crime, but it is not true.“
The FIR was registered by the NIA on March 8 under Sections 286 (negligent conduct with explosive substance), 465 (punishment for forgery), 473 (counterfeit seal) and 506(2) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Waze was arrested at 11.50 pm on Saturday and was interrogated for 13 hours before he was produced before the Special NIA Court. He was earlier remanded to NIA custody on March 14, 2021.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the NIA, yesterday submitted that after the addition of the offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are now applicable, Waze can be remanded for upto 30 days.
“This is one of the most serious cases, not only in Mumbai, but in the entire country. Everybody is shocked to find the police involved in this case… planting explosives… He was himself investigating the case…” Singh said as he concluded his submissions.
He argued that the investigation was at a crucial stage. He briefed the Court on the evidence that had been collected so far.
The NIA had recovered five high-end vehicles and Rs. 5,73,500/- cash along with a note counting machine. They had sent the voice samples of Waze for forensic testing along with the audio and video clips.
When they raided his house, they recovered 62 unaccounted, live bullets. Similarly, the service pistol allotted to police officers contains 30 bullets but NIA found only 5 bullets with Waze’s gun.
Singh stated it was important to investigate the unaccounted bullets, where it has been used, the purpose of use and the intention.
Singh then apprised the Court on the investigations the NIA claims they were yet to investigate, the mobile phone, the car number plates of the Scorpio vehicle and the clothes disposed off by Waze. They were also yet to investigate the biological and chemical swabs taken from the vehicle and the fake identity cards with pseudo names.
The NIA further stated that the Anti-Terrorism Squad had arrested two people in connection with the death of Mansukh Hiren, who is connected to the SUV in the explosives case. The NIA wished to investigate the two in order to find out if they have any connection with the explosives case.
Singh argued that the intention of keeping the gelatin in the car was also important in the case.
“What was the gelatin for? Was it for celebration or functional? Kept on a public road in car? What was the purpose?” Singh argued.
Senior Advocate Abad Ponda, arguing for Waze, relied upon the provisions of the UAPA to submit that gelatin was not an explosive as per the Act.
Ponda submitted that gelatin sticks were not detonable on their own, they need detonators to activate so they are not bombs as is being made out by the NIA. He further added that the chemical composition of the sticks was such that it was safe to handle and store the sticks on its own.
“It is cheapest, it burns slowly, it cannot explode on its own” Ponda submitted.
Ponda further stated that the offences added by the NIA along with the offences under the IPC were merely to ensure that Waze is kept in custody. He further argued that the intention for carrying out the terrorist act had to be looked into.
“Not defending the innocence or guilt, but can you justify the applicability of the UAPA?” Ponda said.
Ponda stated that in order to justify the applicability of UAPA, it was important to consider if the terrorist act threatens the sovereignty or integrity of the nation. He argued that the “intent was never to strike a community or country.”
After hearing the counsel at length, the Court proceeded to extend the remand by 10 days.