New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that Maharashtra Police can use phone tap as evidence to prove in court the alleged links of suspects with gangsters.
The court has upheld the admissibility of intercepted communication, including telephonic conversations, as evidence under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan upheld the provisions of the Act on an appeal filed by the Maharashtra government against the Bombay High Court judgement which held a contrary view.
The state government had filed a petition stating that it was empowered, under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, to tap the phones of people suspected to have links with the underworld.
The conversations recorded could then be used as evidence against them.
With this ruling, the Supreme Court has cleared the decks for investigation and prosecution of leading Bollywood financer Bharat Shah under MCOCA for his alleged links with the underworld,holding that telephonic conversation can be the basis of registration of an FIR against the person.
In 2001, the Mumbai Police had tapped filmmaker Bharat Shah's phone and overheard conversations in which he was allegedly talking to underworld dons. Bharat Shah is facing allegations of having close links with Dubai-based mafia dons like Dawood Abrahim, Chota Shakeel and others.
The Bombay High Court had struck down the Maharastra government order saying that the MCOCA cannot be used to tap phones.
On Monday, the Bench set aside the impugned judgement of Bombay High Court, which had quashed the FIR against Bharat Shah on the grounds that a case cannot be registered solely on the basis of telephonic conversation as telephone tapping of an individual without following the rules amounted to an assault and encroachment on the privacy of an individual.
(With inputs from agencies)