Sikand murder: army officer to be sentenced Saturday

May 2nd, 2008 - 7:48 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) A Delhi court deferred till Saturday the sentencing of Lt Col (Retd.) S.J. Choudhary, convicted for the 1982 murder of automobile dealer Krishan Sikand in the capital’s upscale Sunder Nagar locality. The court had Monday convicted Choudhary, now 72, for sending a parcel bomb that killed Sikand Oct 2, 1982.

Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal Friday deferred the sentencing after the prosecution and defence counsel wrapped up their arguments on quantum of sentence, which can vary from death to life imprisonment.

The prosecution argued that maximum punishment should be awarded to the accused as the case fell in the category of ‘rarest of rare’.

It argued that the motive behind the ghastly crime was Choudhary’s anger that his divorced wife Rani had decided to move in with Sikand and the two planned to get married.

However, the defence alleged that Sikand had taken advantage of his position in society and kept the woman illegally before her formal divorce.

“The accused is 72-years-old and has served the country and won several awards while serving in the army,” said defence counsel S.P. Minocha, arguing that the prosecution’s demand that he be given maximum punishment was baseless.

He said Choudhary had taken care of Rani’s two daughters and brought them up well even though she had left him.

A tense Choudhary, dressed in a light blue shirt, was present during the hearing. He asked for water, which was provided by the court.

His two daughters were also in court and were seen consoling their father after the court permitted family members to meet him.

The defence also moved an application demanding that pen and paper be provided to the accused - this was forwarded to the Tihar Jail superintendent.

The trial in the case began May 31, 1984.

Battling all odds, Krishan Sikand’s father, 98-year-old H.D. Sikand had continued to make attempts for a faster probe.

“I was close to Mother Teresa through whom I approached then prime minister Indira Gandhi. The case was immediately transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which in no time caught the accused and solved the case,” Sikand told IANS over phone.

During the prolonged trial, the family approached Delhi High Court several times to expedite proceedings. The case has documents running into a few thousand pages.

CBI had also alleged that the hand-grenade used in the murder was of Pakistani make and had been seized by the Indian Army following its victory in the 1971 war.

The investigating agency has examined 76 witnesses to prove its version.

Chaudhary, who was out on bail, however, pleaded innocence. Nine witnesses have been examined in his defence.

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