The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has found that an amount of ₹26.50 lakh was withdrawn from the joint bank account of Sachin Vaze and his aide on March 18, five days after the Mumbai police officer was arrested for his alleged role in planting an explosives-laden SUV outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s home on February 25, the court was told on Saturday.
Without naming Vaze’s accomplice, the National Investigation Agency said certain “incriminating material” was also taken out by someone from the joint locker of Waze and his aide, who is a suspect in the case, from a bank located in Versova area in Mumbai.
The special court extended the custody of Vaze till April 7 after the investigating agency told the court that it had recovered “incriminating material” including laptops, DVRs (Digital Video Recorders), a CPU etc., in a damaged condition, during the probe and they need to be examined.
The NIA is also probing the murder of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran, the purported owner of the Scorpio SUV which was found parked near Ambani’s south Mumbai residence ‘Antilia’.
The NIA told the court that Vaze was seen moving near the “scene of the crime” on March 4, a day before Hiran’s body was found (in the creek in Mumbra in Thane district).
The NIA told the court that a Mercedes car was seized on April 2.
The agency had also recovered a diary from a club in south Mumbai mentioning that a huge amount had been paid to Vaze.
The agency told the court it had found the passport of an unknown person at Vaze’s house and needs his further custody to identify that person.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the court Vaze held a joint bank account and a joint locker with his accomplice.
The bank account had ₹26.50 lakh on the day of Vaze’s arrest on March 13. However, the cash was found to be withdrawn on March 18, Singh told the court, adding that some “incriminating material” was also found to be taken out from the bank locker.
Seeking Waze’s custody for another six days, Singh said the NIA needs to trace the incriminating material that went missing from the bank locker and also wants to find out who was using the Mercedes car seized on April 2 and under whose instructions.
Some incriminating material was also seized during the search conducted at the house of former policeman and co- accused Vinayak Shinde, Singh said, adding the NIA will confront Waze with the recovered evidence.
The NIA also needs to examine the CCTV footage data it had seized during the investigation and needs to confront Vaze and other accused with it.
Opposing the NIA’s plea, Vaze’s lawyer Abad Ponda said the NIA can seek remand of the accused under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention (UAPA) Act after the lapse of 15 days.
However, the NIA has not mentioned a single ground seeking the extension of Waze’s custody under the UAPA in its remand application, he said.
Ponda rejected the NIA’s contention that Vaze held a joint account in the bank in Versova.
He demanded that the NIA show the bank account opening form with the name and signature of the accused, which the agency rejected.
Referring to the recovery of electronic devices from the Mithi river in Mumbai by the NIA, Ponda said as it is a huge river, anyone can dump anything into it.
He said the NIA had planted these devices into the river, which it later showed as being recovered during the investigation.
He said Vaze had nothing to do with these materials recovered by the NIA.
“The recovery is based on their skill and volition and completely foisted upon me (Waze),” Ponda added. Meanwhile, Vaze told the court that he was suffering from some cardiac issues and had suffered a stroke on Sunday.
Vaze had demanded his examination by a cardiologist.
Vaze’s lawyer submitted in court that the police officer has a blockage in his heart that can be treated only by angiography and angioplasty.
However, the NIA said they had run diagnostics and found that Vaze’s heart was functioning normally.
“We did ECG and blood test, 2D Echo. .His heart is working normally. Doctors had advised him a bypass (surgery) in 2019, but he didn’t do it then,” the NIA said, adding Waze was being provided the required treatment and that his health was being monitored.
The court then directed the NIA to submit a detailed report on the next day on whether Vaze needs a specific treatment.