High Court questions lower court for not concluding trial in TV journalist Soumya murder case
The court directed Delhi Police to file a status report before indicating the reason for the delay despite nine-and-a-half years having passed since the filing of the charge sheet
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today asked a lower court to inform the reason for non-conclusion of trial in the 2008 sensational murder case of TV journalist Soumya Viswanathan. The court also directed Delhi Police to file a status report before indicating the reason for the delay despite nine-and-a-half years having passed since the filing of the charge sheet. Justice Mukta Gupta issued a notice to the police and said "status report to be filed by the state. The status report shall indicate the reason for the delay in the conclusion of trial."
"The trial court will also send latest report why despite almost nine-and-a-half years having been passed by since the charge sheet was filed, trial has not concluded. List the matter for further hearing on February 26," the high court said. It was hearing a plea by one of the accused, Baljeet Malik, facing trial in the Soumya murder case, seeking to expedite and conclude the trial in a fixed time frame on day to day basis. In the petition filed through advocate Amit Kumar, 30-year-old Malik also sought to the authorities to compensate him with Rs 1 crore for the unreasonable and inordinate delay in investigation and trial of the case.
Soumya was shot dead on September 30, 2008 while she was returning home in her car from office in the wee hours. During the hearing, Kumar submitted that the accused was in custody since 2009 and the prosecution has cited 88 witnesses of which approximately 45-46 have been examined till now. He said it will take another four to five years to complete trial and urged for a speedy trial.
The trial of the case is pending before a sessions judge in Saket district court. The plea said Malik was charged with the stringent provisions of MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime) due to which he has not been able to secure regular bail and it was his constitutional right to have a speedy trial."The unreasonable delay in investigation and trial of the case is not only prejudiced the right of the petitioner (accused) but also the right of family of deceased (Soumya)," it said.
It also said the accused was willing to spend the compensation amount for the welfare of undertrial prisoners of Tihar Jail. Malik along with two others -Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla -were earlier convicted in the 2009 IT executive Jigisha Ghosh murder case. The trial court had awarded death penalty to Kapoor and Shukla and life term to Malik. The Delhi High Court had commuted the death sentence of Kapoor and Shukla and upheld the life term of Malik in the Jigisha murder case. 28-year-old Jigisha, an operations manager in a management consultancy firm, was abducted and killed on March 18, 2009, after she was dropped by her office cab around 4 am near her home in Vasant Vihar area of South Delhi. Her body was recovered three days later from a place near Surajkund in Haryana. Recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Jigisha's murder had led to the cracking of the murder case of Soumya. Police had claimed robbery as the motive behind the killing of both Jigisha and Soumya.
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