A Mumbai court on Friday remanded artist Chintan Upadhyay, who was arrested on December 22 on charges of his involvement in the murders of his estranged wife Hema and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani, in police custody till January 4.
The double murder came to light after the bodies of Hema and Bhambhani were found stuffed in two boxes in a drain in Kandivali on the evening of December 12. The other four accused — Pradip Rajbhar, Vijay Rajbhar, Shivkumar Rajbhar and Azaad Rajbhar — are currently lodged in judicial custody till January 11. The main accused, Vidyadhar Rajhbhar, is still at large.
Just days after Chintan’s lawyer had filed an application in a Borivali court on December 28 alleging “third degree torture” by the Kandivali police, Chintan in the open court on Friday afternoon denied having any “shikayaat” (complaint) against the police.
On Wednesday, Chintan was taken to J J Hospital for a medical check-up following a court order.
Magistrate Prasad Kulkarni asked accused Chintan in Hindi twice if he had any “shikayaat” against the police and Chintan, whose black mask was partially removed off his face said no.
Soon after, Chintan’s lawyer’s Nitin Pradhan asked for the court’s permission to speak to his client for two minutes. The magistrate allowed and Chintan was briefly escorted out of courtroom no 17.
Meanwhile, the investigating officers informed the magistrate the grounds on which they wanted to seek Chintan’s custody further. The police said that it believes Chintan was allegedly “part of the murder conspiracy” and that they have recovered a diary, a pendrive, several sketches and an iPadfrom Chintan’s Delhi house and require his custody to further interrogate him about the content found.
Inspector Sudhir Dalvi who is heading the investigation told the court that the contents in the diary and the sketches found appear to be “suspicious”.
Dalvi further informed the court that they have tracked the person who has supplied a “knockout chemical” that was allegedly used to murder the Hema and Bhambhani. Police told the court that investigations have revealed that Chintan met the other accused days before the murders and they further wanted to probe the meeting.
Three minutes later, when Chintan returned to court, his defence contended that the application filed alleging third degree torture by Jaishree Bharadwaj was not with reference to “assault by the police”.
“I am not alleging any assault by police (on Chintan), that would be unfair adovacy. He (Chintan) has a back problem and was made to sleep on the floor with only a cardboard,” Pradhan said.
During the Pradhan’s argument, Harish elder brother Gop Bhambhani broke his silence and spoke in the open court without being given any permission. “My brother also had a back pain but then why did he (Chintan) kill him?,” Gop asked his only question and was standing in the north-east corner of the courtroom, diagonally opposite from Chintan.
Pradhan pleaded to the court that they hear Chintan, when the magistrate allowed it. Chintan at 1.55 pm told the court that “I have a severe back pain and cannot stretch,” Chintan said in a low voice, holding his back with his right hand to indicate the point of his lumbar problem.
Before remanding Chintan to another four days of police custody, Magistrate Prasad Kulkarni observed: “that medical reports doesn’t show any injury … set aside all the allegations made by the accused.”
Police also moved an application seeking narco analysis test of Chintan. The court on January 4 will also listen to an application filed by Hema’s lawyers alleging perjury and contempt of court against Bharadwaj who filed an application allegedly without the consent of Chintan.
According to police sources, the investigators were notified of a phone call that absconding murder accused Vidyadhar allegedly made to an artist in a neighbouring state this past Sunday. An investigator said that a police team has been sent to the area of the last tower location.