Acquittal of five in Shivani Bhatnagar murder case contested (Lead)

February 13th, 2012 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice on a petition of the Delhi government challenging the acquittal by the Delhi High Court of former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer R.K. Sharma and two others for involvement in the 1999 Shivani Bhatnagar murder.

The Supreme Court’s notice has also been issued to two others, Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved Prakash alias Kalu, who were acquitted by the trial court and their acquittal was upheld by the high court.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai issued the notice after Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal told the court that the Delhi High Court had not considered various evidences, including the details of the calls made to R.K. Sharma by other accused soon after the murder of Shivani Bhatnagar.

The Delhi government has challenged the high court’s Oct 12, 2011, verdict acquitting R.K. Sharma and two others Shri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash, who were awarded life imprisonment by the trial court for Shivani’s murder. The high court had acquitted them giving the benefit of doubt.

While acquitting the three, the Delhi High Court dismissed the state government’s appeal challenging the acquittal of Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved Prakash.

The state government moved the apex court challenging their acquittal.

However, the high court had upheld the conviction of the accused Pradeep Sharma for committing murder and the life imprisonment awarded to him by the trial court.

Shivani Bhatnagar was murdered on Jan 23, 1999, by contract killer Pradeep Sharma allegedly at the behest of R.K. Sharma, who was reportedly close to Shivani during his tenure in the Prime Minister Officer (PMO). At the time of her murder, Shivani was working with Indian Express as a principal correspondent.

Prosecution in its case had contended that Ravi Kant Sharma, Shri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash and Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved Prakash alias Kalu hatched the criminal conspiracy to kill Shvani. Pradeep Sharma joined later and committed the murder.

Pradeep Sharma is the nephew of Satya Prakash.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Alam told the ASG Rawal that the high court had torn to pieces the evidence of a certain exhibit relied upon by the prosecution. The court said that when anomalies were pointed out to the author of these exhibits, he said that he can’t explain.

Rawal told the court that besides this evidence there were eight other independent evidences which were not even considered or discussed by the high court. The ASG told the court that R.K. Sharma was posted at Mumbai as Director Vigilance, Air India, and soon after the murder he was contacted by Shri Bhagwan from his landline phone.

Rawal also told the court that at one point of time 32 calls were exchanged between R.K. Sharma and the other accomplices who executed the murder.

Assailing the judgment, the petition said the high court verdict was “contrary to law, evidence on record and probabilities of the case” and it not justified in acquitting R.K. Sharma and two others of the charges of criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

–Indo-Asia News Service

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