The abduction and murder of well-known city-based cardiologist Dr Deepak Kaura was committed by the three accused in a ‘sophisticated and pre-planned manner’, observed the court while sentencing the accused to life term under various charges on Thursday.
The convicts left no stone unturned while planning the crime from stealing a Honda Activa and documents of a PGI employee and then using the stolen documents to buy mobile numbers on the employee’s name to be used in the crime, to selling off the Activa further using forged RCs procured after a false newspaper advertisement. As if this was not enough they fraudulently used official PGI mobile numbers meant for PGI staff during the crime, posed as someone else to befriend Dr Kaura and bought a gift using a fake name.
In an attempt to further cover up their crime, they received calls on Kaura’s mobile phone even after his death in order to evade suspicion, pointed out the the court while pronouncing the sentence.
According to the 116-page long judgment by Additional Sessions Judge Jaswinder Sheemar, a total of 40 witnesses and ‘voluminous’ evidence were examined in a trial that ran for around two-and-a-half years, resulting in the conviction of a Panchkula-based couple and a PGI junior engineer who hatched a well-planned conspiracy to commit the crime.
The convicts include Deepak Sharma, his wife Honey Aggarwal, and former PGI official Vishal Vij. Deepak and Vishal had earlier been accused in cases of vehicle thefts.
Following are some of the observations by the ASJ and some facts regarding the case:
- Deepak Sharma was engaged in private business and claimed to be financially sound. Honey, meanwhile, had done her PhD in Bio-technology and was a gold medalist at the post-graduate level. She had qualified UGC (NET) four times and was working as a research assistant in Thapar University, Patiala, at the time of the crime. She had given birth to a child only a few months before the murder. Vishal was a JE (telephone and mobiles).
- Kaura was a wealthy doctor and lived a lavish life. He had only recently come out of prison where he was lodged for abetting his wife’s suicide. One of his hospital’s employees testified that he had attempted suicide while in prison, but was apparently leading a happy life in December 2011, and engaged to be re-married when he was murdered.
- The convicts learnt of his wealth and reputation as a womaniser, and hatched a conspiracy much before the murder took place. They got an advertisement published to sell off a stolen scooter, forged the RC based on the advertisement and also procured two SIM cards on the name of the original owner of the scooter on December 7, 2011. In addition, Vishal managed to procure two more official PGI numbers meant for the staff.
- These numbers were almost exclusively used for the crime. One of Surekha’s numbers was turned on December 12, and only used by Honey to contact Kaura posing as one Jyotika. It was switched off after the murder. Call details showed that all other numbers, too, were used by the convicts during this period to talk to each other.
- Mobile tower locations proved that movement of the convicts matched that of the victim on the day of the crime.
- ‘Jyotika’ had bought a shirt for Kaura as a gift from Sector 17 after befriending him. The shirt was recovered from Kaura’s hospital, and its bill from Honey’s house.
- Kaura had, in turn, bought a Samsung handset for ‘Jyotika’, which was recovered from Honey’s house.
- Kaura was last seen on the evening of December 20. Two of his employees saw him sitting with a woman in his Tata Aria in Sector 19. The former later identified the woman as Honey after she was arrested.
- On December 20, Honey alias Jyotika took Kaura in his car to her house in Panchkula, and they were secretly followed by Deepak and Vishal. The three of them then overpowered him, gagged him using a plaster tape (later recovered) and injected him four times with pentazocine, a sedative (all used and unused injections were later recovered). The prosecution never specified which of the three actually administered the drug.
- An expert testified that a dose not below 320 ml of the sedative can be fatal. Kaura was injected with 120 ml. But he was injected on his chest and thighs (unusual body parts for an injection), and his mouth was taped. All these factors had a “cumulative effect”, held the court. Plus, the viscera and chemical reports held that he died due to pentazocine poisoning.
- To throw dust in the eyes of the police, the trio answered calls on Kaura’s phone and even made a call until 11.16 pm, though Kaura had been killed by 10.30 pm. His phone was then switched off and never recovered.
- The prosecution claimed that all three of them confessed to the crime to Mandeep Sodhi, a mutual acquaintance of the victim and the accused. But the court ruled out the confession after defence pointed out lapses in the theory.
- The defence claimed that some recoveries were planted, but the court ruled it out because the police would not specifically plant pentazocine injections when they did not know which drug killed the victim (the chemical report came months later). Also, the bill of the shirt was issued many days ago.
- Although the prosecution did not attribute any motive to the crime, the court said it was very evident that it was to rob him. The ‘last seen theory’, call detail records and mobile tower locations, recoveries and testimonies of the witnesses established the guilt of all accused beyond reasonable doubt, said the court.