A Prayagraj court on Thursday sent gangster-politician Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf to 14-day judicial custody and also allowed five-day police remand in connection with the Umesh Pal murder case.
The two were produced before chief judicial magistrate Dinesh Gautam at 11:10 am amid heavy security and they remained in the court for over two hours as the arguments proceeded.
Ahmad and Ashraf alias Khalid Azim will be kept in judicial custody till April 26, said advocate Vikram Singh, the counsel for Umesh Pal's wife Jaya.
Singh said after arguments on the application submitted by police seeking their custody were completed, the court allowed five-day police remand of the duo which will remain effective till evening of April 17.
District government advocate Gulab Chandra Agrahari told reporters here that the CJM court approved the police remand of Ahmad and Ashraf from April 13 to April 17 under Section 167 of CrPC in the Umesh Pal murder case.
He said that the next date of hearing in the case has been fixed for April 26.
A request was made by the investigating officer to send accused Atiq Ahmad and Ashraf to police remand for 14 days, Agrahari said, adding that after hearing the arguments of both the parties, the court passed the order of police remand from April 13 to April 17 (till 5 pm).
According to legal experts, the police remand empowers investigators to keep the accused in their custody and interrogate them regarding the case.
The CJM court's verdict came on a day the Uttar Pradesh police said they have killed Ahmad's son Asad and one of his aides in an encounter in Jhansi. Both Asad and his aide were wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case.
Earlier, a group of lawyers in the court premises shouted slogans against Ahmad and Ashraf when they were brought in the court.
A lawyer present in the courtroom said that Ahmad and Ashraf looked sad as soon as they came to know about the encounter of Asad in Jhansi.
On the completion of police remand, Ahmad and his brother will sent back to jail.
"Both Atiq Ahmad and Ashraf will be sent back to Sabarmati prison and Bareilly jail, where they are currently lodged, on the completion of police remand to complete the remaining duration of judicial custody," said Singh, counsel for Umesh Pal's wife Jaya.
Umesh Pal, a key witness in the 2005 killing of BSP MLA Raju Pal, and his two police security guards were shot dead outside his home in Prayagraj's Dhoomanganj area on February 24 this year.
The daylight killing on a busy street had raised questions over law and order in Uttar Pradesh and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had vowed in the state assembly that he will "destroy" the mafia in the state.
Ahmad, Ashraf, their family members and others were accused in the Umesh Pal murder case based on a complaint by Jaya Pal. Ahmad is also an accused in the Raju Pal murder case.
For the court hearing on Thursday, Ahmad, the 60-year-old former Samajwadi Party legislator, was brought from Sabarmati jail in Gujarat and Ashraf was brought from Bareilly jail.
This was the second time within a month that Ahmad was brought from the Gujarat jail to Prayagraj via road for a court hearing. On March 28, an MP/MLA court held Ahmad and two others guilty in connection with the kidnapping of Umesh Pal in 2006 and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for life.
The FIR in the Umesh Pal murder case was lodged under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation).