The court, however, dropped the charges of being an active member of the syndicate and also of committing an organised crime.
Mumbai: The state government recently told the Bombay high court that it has enough evidence to prosecute Sujata Nikhalje, wife of gangster Chhota Rajan, under provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA). The court was further informed that Sujata had played the role of a recruiter for the Chhota Rajan gang.
A division bench of Justices Indrajit Mahanty and Anant Badar was hearing two petitions - one filed by Sujata challenging the framed charges and the other of the Crime Branch, which has sought restoring of both the dropped charges.
Sujata was arrested in December 2005 in connection with an extortion case. She and her brother-in-law were accused of threatening and extorting money from a city-based developer. A special court had, in 2014, framed charges against all the accused.
The special MCOCA court had allowed her prosecution for abetting a crime syndicate and for holding a property purchased from the proceeds of crime. The court, however, dropped the charges of being an active member of the syndicate and also of committing an organised crime.
Arguing on behalf of the police, special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat told the court, the prosecution has enough material to prove her involvement in extortion cases.
During the hearing, Mr Gharat read out the statements of some witnesses who had stated that Sujata was active in collecting extortion money. He also read out statements of certain persons who were threatened by Sujata and her accomplices.
"There are statements with the police which state that Sujata threatened people for money. She also took an active part in negotiating the amounts demanded. Therefore, she must be prosecuted with committing an organised crime," Mr Gharat argued.
He also argued that “There is a statement by a person who wanted to join the gang, who has stated he was made to meet Sujata. She was keen to meet him, to ensure he was not a police informant,” Mr Gharat argued. “The statements reveal how Sujata ensured that only genuine persons were allowed to join the gang, he further said.