Danish Khan & Ruhi Khan, Escaped, (Penguin, 2021) is beautifully detailed. The number of facts cited must be appreciated. It doesn’t matter whether the story is on Vijay Mallya or successful extradition of Hansie Cronje times Sanjeev Chawla or forgotten excuses of Raymond Varley who brought Goa to disrepute. Each one will educate. Excerpt follows.
Shrill tunes of gaudy 1980s Bollywood had added to despair of music-lovers who pined for melody of 1960s and 1970s. Then emerged Aashiqui, released in 1990. The gamble by Gulshan Kumar, in using fresh faces, had paid off. Saajan, Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin eventually proved Aashiqui was not a fluke.
Nadeem’s confidence, bordering on being rude, reflected his upper-middle-class upbringing. The rift between Nadeem and Gulshan was no secret. On 12 August 1997, when Gulshan Kumar came out from a Shiv Temple in Andheri, he was attacked by armed assailants.
On 21 August, Ronnie Mendonca became the new Police Commissioner. On Monday, 1 September 1997, Mendonca announced in a hurriedly convened, crowded press conference, Nadeem had given Dawood Ibrahim the contract to kill Gulshan Kumar. Nadeem was in London since July 1997 and was supposed to have returned to Mumbai two weeks earlier. His wife Sultana had a miscarriage and he had extended his stay. Nadeem was arrested on Wednesday, 17 September 1997, from his cousin Nazish Chouglay’s house in Kingsbury, North West London. He was produced at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court where he was given conditional bail. On 24 September, Nadeem appeared in a blue suit. A £200,000 bail deposit and two sureties of £50,000 each had ensured, he would go back to this wife and kid after proceedings were over instead of a British prison. He quietly watched his Barrister, Clive Nicholls do most of the talking.
On Tuesday, 28 October 1997, Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, L.R. Rao flew to London. The 200-page document did not have evidence anywhere close to passing Court’s muster. It emerged, several statements and confessions of key witnesses were recorded, not in front of a Magistrate, but the Police, rendering them inadmissible. Nicholls asked for more time to study. When the Court met briefly on 4 December 1997, Nicholls sought a new date seeking to expound, Muslims were at a disadvantage in India and could not get a fair trial. Nadeem’s Counsel had approached Home Secretary, Jack Straw. Straw, however, declined to intervene. Prosecution had contacted M.L. Pendse, Former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court and Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, to counter Nadeem’s characterization of Mumbai Police as vindictive towards Muslims.
The first round was won by India. It was assumed a positive finding of a prima facie case against Nadeem would follow. Nicholls was garnering headlines as he was defending General, Augusto Pinochet from being extradited to Spain. Nicholls was thus fighting to allow both Pinochet and Nadeem to remain in Britain, at the same time, at the same Court.
On 21 December 2000, Divisional Bench of Deputy Chief Justice Rose and Justice Newman, at High Court in London, delivered on exoneration of Nadeem as an indictment of the unprofessional approach of Mumbai Police. Justice Rose castigated Ronnie Mendonca for naming Nadeem in a press conference in September 1997. Nadeem would remain on residential bail while Indian Government appealed to House of Lords. House of Lords rejected India’s appeal. Nadeem had not secured legal aid and had borne cost of his legal time including Majeed Memon’s twenty-two visits to UK. UK Government paid Rs. 6.7 Crore to Nadeem as part of his litigation charges. The most shocking declaration in this case came much later – on 22 October 2014 – in an unrelated event. ‘The House of Lords Select Committee on Extradition Law’ had gathered to listen to three expert witnesses, Daniel Steinberg, Ben Keith and Paul Garlick, QC. Garlick recalled his experience representing India on Nadeem’s extradition case. “Fortunately, although I was for the Prosecution, the High Court refused extradition…”
India remains out of bounds for Nadeem. As late as 2007, Mumbai Police opposed Nadeem’s father, seeking a passage to India for his son before Bombay High Court. Nadeem-Shravan gave some hits like Dhadkan, Raaz after. In 2005, the pair split.