Charges framed against Abu Salem in fake passport case


Hyderabad : A city court Thursday framed charges against mobster Abu Salem in a fake passport case and adjourned the trial to Feb 27.

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The special court for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases framed the charges against Abu Salem. These include criminal conspiracy, forgery, impersonation and cheating as defined in various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Passport Act.

Abu Salem, who was brought from Mumbai and presented to the court, pleaded that he was implicated in a false case and claimed that he had left India in 1993.

Magistrate Raghunath Rao read out the charges against him and later adjourned the case to Feb 27 for trial. He directed the authorities of Arthur Road Jail of Mumbai, where Salem is being detained, to bring him for the next hearing.

The magistrate said the trial could commence on Feb 27 if all the original documents pertaining to the case were brought from the Supreme Court. The CBI sought time to present the documents, which were called by the apex court while hearing the bail petition of Monica Bedi, a former actress and girlfriend of Salem.

Salem urged the judge that the hearing of the case be expedited. “I have a back problem and am facing a lot of difficulty in travelling up and down. Kindly issue orders for my detention here till the case is disposed of,” said Salem, who is also an accused in the 1993 serial Mumbai bomb blasts.

The magistrate accepted his request and said he would issue an order in this regard if the trial commences at the next hearing.

Salem’s counsel Pradeep Kumar told reporters that the court framed charges against him under 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 419 (impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using forged documents) of the IPC and 12 (1) B of the Passport Act.

Salem also complained to the court about the CBI delaying the trial and pointed out that the case of his co-accused (Monica Bedi and others) was already disposed of.

Monica Bedi, who was extradited from Portugal along with Abu Salem in 2005, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in the same case by the CBI court in 2007. The Supreme Court later released her on bail.

The CBI filed a case against Salem, Monica Bedi, his first wife Sabeen Azmi and others for procuring passports using fake names and addresses in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in August 2001.

Bedi’s passport was issued in the name of Sana Malik Kamal and Salem got the passport in the name of Ramil Kamal Malik.

The fraud was detected in February 2002 when the Intelligence Bureau got a tip-off that Salem and Bedi had used fake passports during a trip to Dubai.

Salem and Bedi fled the country after the 1993 blasts in Mumbai, which claimed over 250 lives.

After prolonged extradition proceedings, Salem and Bedi were brought to India on Nov 11, 2005. Their cases were separated for speedy trial. Bedi was acquitted by a Bhopal court in a similar case in 2007.