A court here Wednesday acquitted gangsters Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao in the murder case of suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui, giving them benefit of doubt.
Siddiqui, a suspect in terror cases in Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune, was found strangled to death inside a cell of Yerawada Central Jail and Mohol and Bhalerao were arrested for allegedly killing him using a string of a pyjama.
Giving the benefit of doubt to Mohol and Bhalerao, Additional Sessions Judge S H Gwalani acquitted both of them, public prosecutor Vilas Ghogare Patil said.
"The extra-judicial confession of Mohol, which was taken in front of the jailer, was disbelieved by the court. By stating that the circumstantial evidence, also, was not reliable, the court acquitted Mohol and Bhalerao," he said.
The prosecution's case was that the duo had used a string of pyjama to strangulate Qateel. However, the prosecution could not recover the string, Ghogare Patil said.
"There were several discrepancies in the case and even the fellow under-trials from the jail did not support the prosecution's case as nobody had witnessed the alleged act," he added.
The defense counsel said that the prosecution's entire case was standing on the extra-judicial statement, but there was no corroboration to it.
The court examined 16 witnesses in the case.
The Maharashtra ATS was probing Qateel's role in allegedly attempting to plant a bomb outside the Shrimant Dagadusheth Ganapati temple in the city.
Mohol has several other cases, including that of murder, and dacoity, against him.
In 2016, a local court had awarded life imprisonment to seven persons, including Mohol, for the 2010 murder of a member of a rival gang in Pune.
Mohol and Bhalerao are currently lodged in Taloja Jail.