Former Mumbai Police Officer Pradeep Sharma Convicted in 2006 Fake Encounter Case

Former Mumbai police officer has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 2006 fake encounter killing of Lakhan Bhaiya, an alleged member of the Chhota Rajan gang.

Pradeep Sharma
Bombay High Court convicts encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma in fake encounter.

Former Mumbai police officer Pradeep Sharma, despite his acquittal by a sessions court, faced a different verdict from the Bombay High Court. On Tuesday, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 2006 fake encounter killing of Ramnarayan Gupta, also known as Lakhan Bhaiya, an alleged member of the Chhota Rajan gang.

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The High Court’s decision came after the state government appealed against Sharma’s earlier acquittal in July 2013. Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri V Godse, in a detailed 867-page judgment, criticized the trial court’s ruling as “perverse and unsustainable.”

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The court found Sharma guilty of murder and other charges, highlighting that the prosecution successfully demonstrated how Lakhan Bhaiya was killed by trigger-happy police officers in what was made to look like a legitimate encounter.

Additionally, the conviction of 12 other policemen and a civilian, Hitesh Solanki, was upheld by the bench. However, six individuals were acquitted of their charges.

The bench emphasized that having multiple cases against Lakhan Bhaiya did not justify his extrajudicial killing. It condemned the police’s abuse of power and stressed the importance of upholding the rule of law.

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Furthermore, the court addressed the issue of deaths in police custody, stating that such incidents must be dealt with severely to maintain trust in the justice system.

The judgment also lamented the lack of progress in investigating the murder of a key witness, Anil Bheda, whose killers remained unidentified despite his brutal death in 2011.

The court criticized the trial court’s decision to acquit Sharma, noting overlooked evidence linking him to the crime scene and witness intimidation.

The fake encounter occurred in 2006 near Nana Nani Park in Versova, following Lakhan Bhaiya’s detainment from Vashi. Subsequently, an FIR was filed in 2009 after a special investigation team uncovered evidence of police involvement in the staged encounter.

In July 2013, the sessions court sentenced 21 individuals, including 13 police personnel, to life imprisonment, but Sharma was acquitted. However, the state government’s appeal challenged this decision, arguing that the encounter was fabricated by the accused.

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Pradeep Sharma, previously arrested in connection with other cases, including the Antilia terror threat and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, was granted bail by the Supreme Court in August of the previous year.

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