New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed police to drop stringent MCOCA charges from an extortion case against gangster Abu Salem, the order for whose extradition to India has been quashed by the Portuguese Supreme Court allegedly owing to non-observance of extradition terms here.

"The petition of Delhi Police is allowed. The order dated August 28, 2009 passed by the designated lower court is set aside. The state is permitted to withdraw the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA)," Justice V K Shali said.

The court's judgement came on a petition of the Delhi Police seeking revocation of the lower court's order which had denied it the permission to withdraw the MCOCA charges against the extradited gangster.

The Delhi High Court judgement assumes significance as it would help the CBI in pursuing the Salem's extradition case before the constitutional court in Portugal, where the probe agency have suffered setbacks in judicial proceedings.

Earlier, the Portuguese high court had terminated the extradition of Salem to India on ground that the extradition terms agreed to between the two nations have not been observed. The Supreme Court of Portugal too had upheld the decision which left the CBI with the sole remedy to seek reversal in the Constitutional Court there.

The Delhi High Court on Friday disposed of two separate petitions of Salem against the order of the lower court saying "your petitions become inconsequential. No separate order is required."

Salem, along with his girlfriend Monica Bedi, a Bollywood starlet, was detained in Portugal on September 18, 2002, and handed over to India on November 11, 2005, to face trial in eight cases including the 1992 Mumbai blast case.

The Delhi police had invoked Section 3(2) and Section 3(4) of MCOCA relating to commission of an offence by an organised crime syndicate as per a criminal conspiracy for extortion of money from a Delhi-based trader in 2002.

Reacting to the high court order, M S Khan, the counsel for Salem Said, "This has got no impact on the proceedings in the Portuguese Constitutional Court as the authorisation of my extradition has already been terminated. This order has now become inconsequential."

To secure Salem's extradition India, which had no extradition treaty with Portugal, had given an executive assurance that he would be awarded neither death penalty nor a jail term exceeding 25 years nor fresh charges would be invoked against him.

The Portuguese Constitutional Court had on March 12 stayed the order of its Supreme Court on the alleged violation by New Delhi the bilateral agreement for extradition of underworld don Abu Salem. New Delhi allegedly violated agreement by slapping new charges, entailing death penalty on conviction.

In the high court, the city police had sought dropping of charges saying not doing so will harm the reputation of India at international foray.

Salem's counsel Khan, however, did not oppose the plea of the police, saying "in fact, I had also filed two petitions against the order of the lower court."

Portugal's Supreme Court had on January 14 upheld an order of Court of Appeal in Lisbon which on Salem's petition had cancelled his extradition holding that by slapping new charges under MCOCA, which attracted death penalty, there was breach of deportation rules and Rule of Speciality.


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