BJP leader’s murder: 11 yrs on,victim’s husband let off

Sheela Soni’s body bore 32 injuries; lone accused gets benefit of doubt

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: March 15, 2013 4:17:29 am

Pronouncing its verdict in the infamous murder case in which Dr Sheela Soni,a BJP leader from Mandal,was killed in 2002,a sessions court in Viramgam of Ahmedabad district Thursday acquitted her husband and the lone accused,Dr Purushottam Soni,giving him benefit of the doubt.

Both the deceased and her husband were doctors. The former was also president of BJP’s women cell in Mandal.

On June 25,2002,Dr Sheela Soni was found murdered inside her house at Mandal. Her body bore 32 injuries,many on vital parts,caused by a surgical knife. A police complaint was lodged by Dr Purushottam Soni himself. However,police later made him a suspect and eventually he was arraigned as an accused.

According to the prosecution,the couple was childless and wanted to adopt a child. While the deceased wanted to adopt a child of one of her close relatives,the accused wanted to adopt a child of one of his own close relatives,which led to the murder.

However,defence lawyer S V Raju argued that 10 days after the murder,the accused was taken on remand during which police made discoveries of blood-stained clothes allegedly of accused and the surgical knife allegedly used in the murder. However,the blood on the surgical knife was fresh. Also,findings of the brain mapping test conducted on the accused did not support the “discoveries” that were made from a public place on a highway.

According to Raju,the size of the wounds on the deceased’s body were disproportionate to the size of the surgical knife,which was small. Also,in spite of 32 injuries,the clothes of the deceased had very few blood stains.

Raju also argued that the prosecution had not examined many material witnesses to the case.

During the pendency of the case,the accused had made many attempts to prove his innocence. At one point,he wanted police to conduct narco analysis and brain mapping tests on him,a demand police declined. Soni then approached Gujarat High Court,which allowed his demand to undergo brain mapping test. However,the state government moved the Supreme Court,which upheld the HC order.

Ultimately,the accused’s brain mapping test was conducted at Gandhinagar FSL. Before this,he had approached HC seeking direction to undergo the test at any FSL except at the Gandhinagar FSL,a petition that was not allowed by the court.

PIL seeks fresh batch of additional public prosecutors

A city-based lawyer has filed a public interest litigation in the High Court seeking a direction to the state government to appoint a new batch of additional public prosecutors (APPs) at Ahmedabad sessions court at the earliest.

A division bench of HC has issued notice to the state government and kept further hearing for next week.

According to petitioner Vinod Brahmbhatt,there are 17 posts of the APPs in Ahmedabad City Sessions Court and these are being filled by the state government from a panel of lawyers suggested by the principal district judge and district magistrate.

“In August 2008,the term of the 17 APPs expired and the authorities were supposed to fill the posts afresh. However,no such appointment has been made to date and the lawyers whose terms expired in August 2010 have been given extension by the state government,” Brahmbhatt has stated.

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