A Delhi Court will commence trial from March 28 against 21 accused, including sacked Uttarakhand minorities panel chief Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, in the shootout case involving liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his younger brother Hardeep at a farmhouse here in 2012.
Additional Sessions Judge Vimal Kumar Yadav, who dropped murder charges against all 21 accused. He, however, added the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against alleged main conspirator Namdhari and his Personal Security Officer (PSO) Sachin Tyagi. It entails maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
“Now, the case is listed for March 28 for recording of the statement of prosecution witnesses,” the court said.
The sessions court gave elaborate reasons for dropping murder charge and invoking culpable homicide not amounting to murder against Namdhari and Sachin. It said the November 17, 2012, shootout in which Ponty and Hardeep were killed “seems to be an event which happened suddenly and unexpectedly”.
“Appearance of Hardeep Singh at the scene was sudden and unexpected, it was he who had fired at the injured Narender Ahlawat (Ponty’s manager who is also an accused in the case) and also pumped in several bullets into elder brother Gurdeep (Ponty) Chadha.
“Thereafter, Namdhari and Sachin used their firearms and shot Hardeep which resulted in his death… Thus, these acts amount to culpable homicide by Namdhari and Sachin, within domain of exception 4 of Section 300 of the IPC,” the court said.
The remaining 19 accused were charged under attempt to murder in connection with the incident.