Sreesanth's friend Abhishek gets bail

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) A Delhi court Thursday granted bail to Abhishek Shukla, friend of cricketer S. Sreesanth, arrested by Delhi Police for his alleged role in the IPL spot fixing case.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma granted the bail after dismissing the judicial custody plea of police.

The court told Shukla, a manager in a private firm, to furnish a personal bond of Rs.25,000 and a surety of like amount.

He was directed to surrender his passport and to join the investigation.

Shukla had allegedly removed money and articles of Sreesanth from his hotel room in Mumbai after his arrest May 16.

The court, rejecting the plea for Shukla's judicial custody, said the investigating agency had failed to convince that he was a part of the spot fixing scandal involving the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shukla, arrested Wednesday, said he was not a part of any conspiracy.

Delhi Police had claimed to have recovered Rs.5.5 lakhs at the instance of Shukla. Police claim the sum was part of the Rs.10 lakh allegedly paid in Mumbai to cricketer Sreesanth for spot fixing in an IPL match.

The court said that at the most Shukla can be booked for removal or destruction of evidence.

"Since the offence itself is bailable, the conspiracy to commit the offence would also be bailable," the court said granting bail to Shukla.

The court also noted that it was on record that Shukla had joined the investigation a day prior to his arrest and therefore, there was no use of sending him behind bars as he was ready to cooperate with the probe.

The prosecution opposed Shukla's bail plea.

Public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan called Shukla an abettor and perpetrator of the main offence for which the others have been booked: cheating, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

Mohan said Shukla used to accompany Sreesanth and Jiju and pay the cricketer's hotel bills and he had joined the train of conspiracy when he was asked by Jiju to clear Sreesanth's room.

The prosecutor said police had recorded Shukla's telephonic conversation in which he was asked to "clean" Sreesanth's room.

"Even if he was not aware of the conspiracy, he had joined the train of conspiracy and is equally liable to be prosecuted," the prosecution added.

The judge voiced his unhappiness over the police decision to take Shukla to Mumbai without taking the court's permission.

Shukla joined the investigation on the night of May 27-28. He was later arrested.

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