In a recent development, the High Court of Bombay has dismissed the proceedings initiated under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) against Mahesh Pankaj Soni. Soni was accused of buying stolen gold ornaments from robber Ayub Alimuddin Shaikh, also known as Ayub Chikna.
The court found that there was no substantial evidence to prove Soni’s involvement in the organised crime syndicate or his primary role in the alleged robbery. A bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Gauri Godse carefully considered the case and concluded that there was no material evidence to link Soni to the crime.
The case centered around an alleged robbery that took place on April 6, 2019, in Chinchpokli, South Mumbai. According to the police, Ayub Chikna and four others attacked a man, robbing him of gold ornaments worth nearly ₹56 lakh. The police alleged that Soni and his father, Pankaj Soni, were part of Chikna’s syndicate and purchased the stolen gold ornaments.
However, Soni vehemently denied any connection to Ayub Chikna or his criminal activities. He argued that the only material evidence against him was the gold melting machine recovered from his possession and the call data records with Chikna’s wife.
Soni, who owns a jewellery shop named Riddhi Siddhi Jewellers with his father, explained that the gold melting machine was a normal part of their business operations. Additionally, he pointed out that it was his father who had made the alleged phone calls with Chikna’s wife using his father’s mobile. Furthermore, the stolen ornaments were never found in Soni’s possession; only two gold bars weighing 1175 grams were recovered from his father.
After evaluating Soni’s arguments and the evidence presented, the High Court agreed that the recovery of the gold melting machine alone could not be considered incriminating. Owning such a machine is not unusual for a jeweller, especially given the nature of their business.
The court also considered the phone calls from Chikna’s wife as ordinary, as it is not uncommon to receive calls from various individuals. The mere fact of receiving such a call cannot be deemed incriminating, particularly since no stolen items were recovered from Soni himself.
In light of these findings, the High Court of Bombay dismissed the proceedings initiated under MCOCA against Mahesh Pankaj Soni.