Bombay HC frees celebrity lawyer nabbed in CDR scam

Mumbai: In a huge embarrassment for the Maharashta government, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday ordered the release of celebrity lawyer Rizwan Siddiqui who was arrested in the infamous Thane Call Details Record (CDR) scam, in which names of several celebrities have tumbled out.

Siddiqui, arrested by in Thane on March 16 and remanded to custody till March 23 (Friday), was ordered to be released by Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari and Justice P.D. Naik by “Wednesday 5 p.m.”.

“They (police) have acted in a high-handed manner and failed to follow the due process of law,” the bench observed, and also directed the state government to inquire into the police action and act against them if they were found to be wrong in the episode.

The court order came on a habeas corpus plea filed by the lawyer’s wife, Tasneem Siddiqui, challenging his arrest in the CDR scandal.

“I had full faith in the judiciary. You can check the court order… If they found the police action against me fair or not,” Siddiqui said briefly after he was released from police custody this evening.

The court also found that while Siddiqui had been served a notice on March 15 to remain present on March 17 at 11 a.m. for investigation, he was arrested even before he could present himself before police.

Meanwhile, investigation into the CDR scam has thrown up some more names of celebrities including National Award winning actress Kangana Ranaut, who reportedly shared the number of actor Hrithik Roshan, who she claims is her former boyfriend, with Siddiqui.

“When we respond to a notice, we give all details to the lawyer. To assume that these details were used to violate law and make statements based on that assumption and defame an artiste is super lame… Proper investigation should be carried out before making assumptions,” Kangana said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

The celeb lawyer also represents acclaimed actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui who was summoned last week for the CDR probe.

Besides, the name of actor Jackie Shroff’s wife Ayesha Shroff has also come up after she allegedly shared the number of her business partner and Bollywood actor Sahil Khan with Siddiqui, according to the investigators.

They said the motives behind the sharing of these numbers is being investigated and do not rule out the possibility of some more big names cropping up in the future.

The entire CDR scandal, which erupted in late January, made national headlines after the arrest of India’s first woman private detective, Rajani Pandit, in early-February.

Pandit and at least four other accused were booked for acquiring the CDRs, telephonic conversations records and other valuable information illegally for selling to clients, with the racket reportedly flourishing undetected since nearly five years now.

The investigators also suspect the sensitive information may also have been used for blackmailing or extortion purposes and are focusing the probe on her clients and contacts, unscrupulous employees of some mobile service provider companies and even the involvement of some police personnel in the racket.

Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh has already made it clear that the investigations will span across other states with suspicions of blackmail and extortion of politicians, businessmen, industrialists, and personalities from the film and glamour world.