Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma allowed the bail plea of Salem on a personal bond of Rs one lakh with one surety of the like amount after considering that the other co-accused in the case are already out on bail.

"The main prosecution witnesses have already been examined in this case and only three police officials are to be examined totality of facts and circumstances, accused Abu Salem is granted bail...," the judge said.

During the hearing on the bail plea, advocate MS Khan, appearing for Salem, told the court that his client is in judicial custody in connection with the extortion case since June 2007 and all the other co-accused have already been granted bail.

Salem, extradited from Portugal in November 2005, had last month filed the bail application before the court.

In his bail plea, Salem had said he has already been granted bail in two cases pending against him in separate courts in Delhi and due to his long "incarceration", he is entitled to get relief.

During the proceedings, the court also recorded the statement of businessman Ashok Gupta, from whom Salem had allegedly demanded Rs five crore and had also threatened him, and his son Abhishek.

Gupta told the court he had received various extortion calls from Salem in April 2002 in which he had demanded Rs five crore from him and had also threatened that he would eliminate his family members if the demand was not fulfilled.

"On April 5, 2004, I again received a call from Abu Salem on my another phone on which the recorder was not installed. In these talks, Salem demanded Rs five crore and threatened me that in the event of non-fulfilment of this demand, my family will be eliminated," he told the judge. Gupta said that he had received various extortion calls and the caller had introduced himself as Abu Salem.

He said that he informed the police about it and a recorder was installed on the landline phone of his house. Gupta also told the court that Salem used to repeatedly call him and extended threats to him and his family.

The court has now fixed December 9 for recording the statement of remaining prosecution witnesses in the case. Salem, along with five other accused, is facing trial for demanding Rs 5 crore as protection money from businessman Ashok Gupta, a resident of Greater Kailash here.

The other accused facing trial are Chanchal Mehta, Majid Khan, Pawan Kumar Mittal and Mohd Ashraf. One of the accused, Sajjan Kumar Soni, died during the pendency of the case.

According to police, Salem allegedly made threat calls to businessman Ashok Gupta in 2002 to extort Rs 5 crore from him as protection money. Police claimed to have recorded some of the telephonic calls.

Salem, facing trial in eight cases in the country including the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, is lodged in a jail in Mumbai.


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