Wednesday, 12 October 2011

R K Sharma gets benefit of doubt : Delhi HC acquits him in Shivani murder case

The Delhi High Court today acquitted R K Shrma, the prime accused in Shivani Bhatnagar murder case. A two judge bench of Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Manmohan acquitted all the  accused except Pradeep Sharma giving them benefit of doubt. The Court confirmed the sentence awarded to Pradeep Shrama. While pronouncing its order Justice B D Ahmed said "...the sentence to Pradeep Sharma under Section 302 is confirmed and all the other accused are acquitted getting benefit of doubt..."

The bench had reserved its judgment on December 21st last year after hearing arguments on the counsel of the defence as well as the prosecution. Shivani, a journalist with the Indian Express, was murdered in her Navkunj Apartments flat at IP Extension in East Delhi on January 2, 1999.

Sharma's counsel argued there were several missing links, including the call record, in the chain of circumstances and the record was tampered with to implicate him. The lawyer sought the acquittal of his client on the ground of lacunae in the transcript of the mobile phone calls between his client and other accomplices to substantiate his allegation that the police had fabricated the call records.

Standing Counsel (Criminal) Pawan Sharma countered the defence contention that the accused was posted in the prime minister's office and if any call record was tampered with at all, it was done by Sharma. He also argued the convict was holding a high position and had influenced the witnesses, as a result which 43 prosecution witnesses turned hostile in the case.

The prosecution had also alleged in the trial court that Sharma had provided certain classified documents to Shivani that led to her murder by the former as the journalist wanted to make the documents public. A trial court had convicted the four accused Sharma, Sri Bhagwan, Pradeep Sharma and Satya Prakash to life imprisonment in March 2008. 

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