September 18, 2021 1:09:40 am
Nearly six years after artist Chintan Upadhyay was arrested for allegedly murdering his estranged wife and artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani, the Supreme Court on Friday granted him bail. The court held that Upadhyay is entitled for bail as he has been in jail since 2015.
“The petitioner has been in custody for nearly six years. The trial is in progress and 28 witnesses have been examined and 12 witnesses are yet to be examined. Having scrutinised the record and after hearing the learned counsel for the parties, we are of the opinion that the petitioner is entitled for bail…,” the bench comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice B R Gavai said.
The court also directed the trial court again to complete trial within six months.
Among the conditions set by the court for Upadhyay’s bail are that he will reside in any place other than Mumbai and visit the city only for the purpose of attending court. It added that he shall not attempt to influence witnesses and report to the local police station at the place of his residence on the first day of every month.
The bodies of Upadhyay’s wife and Bhambhani were found in a box thrown in a nullah at Kandivali on December 12, 2015. The
Mumbai Police had arrested Upadhyay 10 days later. He was booked for charges, including murder, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.
Upadhyay’s previous bail applications were rejected by the trial court, the Bombay High Court as well as the Supreme Court.
In February 2019, the SC had said that he could approach the court with a fresh bail plea if the trial is not completed within six months.
Upadhyay, through lawyers Raja Thakare and Bharat Manghani, approached the SC again last year stating that the trial is likely to take another two to three years. Upadhyay’s plea had listed the 26 times when the trial was adjourned for non-production of the accused before court. It also listed other adjournments, including the absence of the presiding officer and the prosecution.
Upadhyay will now have to complete bail formalities before the trial court in Dindoshi, following which he will be released from Thane jail.
The police had claimed that the double murders were carried out by absconding accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar, along with others, at the behest of Upadhyay, due to the enmity arising out of the pending divorce proceedings between him and Hema. Upadhyay has claimed that there is no evidence to show his involvement in the murders.
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