In a significant development in the sensational Sheela Soni murder case of Mandal in Ahmedabad district, Gujarat Government has moved a criminal appeal before the Supreme Court against the acquittal of the deceased’s husband – Dr Parsottam Soni – which was confirmed by the Gujarat High Court (HC).
The case assumes importance since Sheela’s family was close to sitting Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who was at the relevant time an MLA from Mandal and Sheela’s close relatives have been alleging that her murder was a political one and that Parsottam was falsely framed in the case.
The appeal was filed sometime back reportedly during the Lok Sabha elections and is likely to come up for hearing before an appropriate bench in due course. It has been filed after a division bench of the HC dismissed state government’s appeal in December last year.
Sheela – then the president of BJP’s Women’s Cell of Mandal – was killed inside her house in Mandal of Viramgam taluka of Ahmedabad district on June 25, 2002, and her husband Parsottam had lodged a complaint in that regard.
Sheela had sustained 32 stab injuries on various parts of her body. The murder had been reported in the evening after Parsottam, a gynecologist, left the residence for clinic and had even a telephonic talk with Sheela from his clinic before the murder. The couple did not have children.
Initially, the investigation was handled by a police sub-inspector but, later the probe was handed over to the Local Crime Branch (LCB) and the then police inspector R K Patel was made the investigating officer. Subsequently, police had arrested Parsottam under the charge of murdering his wife with surgical blade without attributing any motive. The case had become embarrassing for the BJP, with the name of a former legal cell member of the party being dragged into it as a suspect.
However, in March last year – nearly 11 years after the murder – Parsottam was acquitted by Additional Sessions Judge D B Patel of Ahmedabad (Rural) District Court in Viramgam, while giving him benefit of “reasonable doubt”.
The state government had cited that Parsottam was the last person seen with the deceased. However, the defence had argued that Parsottam’s presence at the residence was quite natural and it could not be held against him.
During the proceedings of the case in trial court, Parsottam had even moved an application to undergo “brain mapping test” to prove his innocence before the HC. The application was allowed by the HC but, the state government had challenged it before the SC. The apex court, however, upheld the HC order.