he Bombay High Court on Friday granted bail to former Ulhasnagar MLA Suresh (Pappu) Kalani in an appeal filed by him against conviction in a 15-year-old murder case, despite opposition by Maharashtra Government.
The bail was granted by a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil who asked Kalani to furnish a surety of Rs. one lakh and report to Kalyan police once in a fortnight. Kalani was restrained from entering Ulhasnagar town.
65-year-old Kalani and three others were found guilty by a Thane court on November 29 last year and given life sentence for the murder of BJP worker Inder Bhatija in 1999.
Special public prosecutor Vikas Patil opposed Kalani’s bail saying he had created a terror in Ulhasnagar town. Kalani was allegedly involved in many crimes after he was given bail by the Supreme Court during the trial in this case.
This only showed that he has disregard for judiciary and acted on his own whims and fancies, the prosecutor argued.
Kalani’s lawyer Niteen Pradhan submitted that there was no direct evidence to show the role of Kalani in Inder Bhatija’s murder. Moreover, two major witnesses, the father and the wife of the deceased, had turned hostile, he said.
Inder’s brother, Ghanashyam, was earlier murdered on February 27, 1990 near the Pinto Resorts in Ulhasnagar of Thane district. Inder, who had witnessed the murder, was also shot dead on April 27, 1999 despite having police protection.
According to police, both the murders were a fall-out of long-standing political and criminal enmities. Police had conducted trial against accused, Pappu Kalani, Bacchi Pandey (50), Baba Gabrial (52), Mohamad Asrat Sheikh (45), Narendra Ramsinghani and Richard.
While Bacchi, Baba and Mohamad were held guilty of murder under section 302 IPC and conspiracy, Kalani was convicted only for conspiracy (section 120-B of IPC). Ramsinghani and Richard were acquitted for want of evidence.
Although Kalani has been convicted for Inder’s murder, the trial in Ghansham’s murder case is pending in Thane Court.
Kalani was president of Ulhasnagar Municipal Council and Congress MLA at one time. Later, he floated his own party.
He has been Congress MLA from Ulhasnagar twice, while in 1995 and 1999 Kalani was elected as an independent. In 2004, he won as candidate of Republican Party of India.