The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the trial court to conduct hearings in the 2008 murder case of TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan, preferably on a day-to-day basis or twice a week, for speedy disposal of the case.
Justice Mukta Gupta issued the direction after one of the accused in the case approached the court and alleged that the trial in the case has not yet concluded, despite him and four others having been in custody for about a decade.
The court noted, as per trial court records, that the reasons for delay were primarily the absence of prosecution witnesses (PWs), and due to the time taken to appoint a special public prosecutor. The court asked the DCP (South) to assign the task of monitoring to Additional DCP (South), thereby ensuring presence of PWs on dates of hearing in the case.
Accused Baljeet Malik, through his advocate Amit Kumar, had sought to expedite and conclude the trial within a fixed time frame on a day-to-day basis in connection with the murder of Vishwanathan, who was shot dead while returning home from office in the early hours of September 30, 2008.
He sought direction to the authorities to compensate him with Rs 1 crore for the unreasonable and inordinate delay in the investigation and trial of the case.
The court, however, rejected Malik’s (30) demand for compensation, and said in its order that no adjournment shall be given in the case unless there are valid reasons. The court directed the trial court to begin proceedings in the case on March 8, which is pending at the Saket district court.
Recently, Vishwanathan’s parents had written to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying they were tired of “hollow assurances” from the authorities, and demanded that the case be tried soon.The CM directed the Delhi chief secretary to issue a showcause notice to the public prosecutor, who “skipped” hearings in the case, and assured that a special prosecutor would be appointed soon.
Malik along with two others, Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla, were earlier also convicted in the murder of IT executive Jigisha Ghosh (28). The trial court had awarded the death penalty to Kapoor and Shukla and life-term to Malik. The HC then commuted the death sentences of Kapoor and Shukla and upheld Malik’s life term.
Jigisha, an operations manager in a management consultancy firm, was abducted and killed on March 18, 2009, after she was dropped by her office cab near her Vasant Vihar home. Her body was recovered three days later, near Surajkund in Haryana. Recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Jigisha’s murder had helped police crack the Viswanathan murder case.