Fourteen years after the body of wife Anju was found in the couple’s East Delhi home, former TV producer Suhaib Ilyasi will have to face trial for murder, the High Court held on Tuesday.
The bench of Justice Indermeet Kaur said, “Prima facie material collected by prosecution justifies the framing of additional charge under Section 302 of the IPC.”
Ilyasi was arrested on March 28, 2000, and charges were framed against him under Sections 498A (cruelty to a woman) and 304B (dowry death) after his sisters-in-law and mother-in-law alleged that he used to “torture” Anju for dowry.
The High Court has now directed the trial court to add the charge of murder against Ilyasi, who shot to fame as anchor of the popular crime show ‘India’s Most Wanted’.
The orders were issued on a plea filed in 2011 by Anju’s mother Rukma Singh, who had argued that circumstantial evidence pointed to Ilyasi. She had claimed that even though Anju’s body had multiple stab wounds, there were no cuts on her clothing. Further, Singh had argued that no charges of abetment to suicide or murder had been framed by the trial court despite the evidence.
The court relied on the statements made by Anju’s sisters regarding the couple’s marriage.
“In the view of this court, testimonies of prosecution witness 18 and 20 (sisters of the victim) recorded on oath are relevant facts which are, prima facie, sufficient to constitute the framing of additional charge under Section 302 of IPC,” the court said.
The court also dismissed a plea filed by Ilyasi against a decision to form a fresh medical board to take a fresh look at the medical reports. Ilyasi had raised objections claiming that the trial court had not given sanction to create such a board, and the decision had been taken after framing of charges in the case.
The bench said, “The opinion of the newly constituted medical board would in fact assist the court in coming to a conclusion as to whether the death of the victim was suicidal or homicidal.”
One of the three doctors who conducted the autopsy, Dr L C Gupta, had stated that homicide could not be ruled out in the case. Singh had relied on Gupta’s opinion in her applications filed to add murder charges. Ilyasi’s lawyers had argued that the introduction of new evidence at this late stage could not be allowed. Additional Public Prosecutor Fizani Hussain said setting up a medical board was police’s prerogative under the CrPC to carry out investigation even after filing chargesheet in a case.
“There is no doubt that the dissenting opinion of Dr L C Gupta… that homicide cannot be ruled out was available even prior to filing of the chargesheet and this was material available with the Sessions court at the time of framing of the first charge…,” the court noted.
“Keeping in view the fact that the case is based on circumstantial evidence, at the time of framing of charge, only a prima facie view of the matter has to be taken into account,” the bench said.