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Bharat Shah sentenced, but won't have to spend time in prison

Vijay Singh in Mumbai | October 01, 2003 12:36 IST
Last Updated: October 01, 2003 16:26 IST

A special court in Mumbai on Wednesday sentenced film financier and diamond merchant Bharat Shah to one year in prison for concealing information from police to facilitate extortion activities of the underworld.

As Shah has already spent 14 months in jail, he will not be required to serve the imprisonment, designated Judge A P Bhangale ruled.

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Both producer Nasim Rizvi and his assistant Abdul Rahim Allahbaksh Khan, who were convicted along with Shah on Tuesday, were sentenced to six years' rigorous imprisonment. They will not have to undergo the full sentence because they have already spent 32 months in jail.

They judge also imposed a fine of Rs 500,000 each on Rizvi and Khan. Failure to pay the fine would result in a further imprisonment of one year.

The judge had found Shah guilty under section 118 of the Indian Penal Code; Rizvi and Khan were found guilty under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act of forging links with Karachi-based gangster Chhota Shakeel to target film personalities for personal gains.

In another development, the judge ordered the court receiver to return the investments made by Shah and his firm Mega Bollywood in making Hindi film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke and deposit in the government treasury the balance amount collected from the movie's release.

Deposing before the court, Shah said he had not done anything wrong in life but in case if he had committed mistakes then he expected justice.

Shah pleaded: "I and my family continued to receive threats from the underworld since 1997. I have spent 14 months in jail already and suffered huge financial losses. Please give me justice."

Bowing before the judge, Rizvi said, "This is the first offence for which I am being convicted. I have already spent 32 months in jail and have just begun my career. I have a 14-year-old daughter, a 17-year-old son, mother and wife to look after. Please take a lenient view."

Stepping into the witness box, Khan said his sister and 65-year-old mother were dependent on him and that he had already spent 32 months in prison.

Prosecutor Rohini Salian urged the court to give deterrent punishment to the accused as many Bollywood personalities had in the past received extortion threats from the underworld.

Rizvi and Khan were sentenced under section 3(2) of MCOCA. They were also awarded the same punishment under section 3(4) of MCOCA. Both the sentences would run concurrently.

Shah's lawyers Shrikant Shivde and Vibhav Krishna told the court that the film financier had himself received threats from the underworld and if at all he had not complained to the police about Rizvi's links with Shakeel it was because he feared for his life.

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