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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Nothing established except accused son addicted to alcohol and had enmity with Sandhya, says court

In the order made available on Wednesday, the court has said that Mumbai Police Crime Branch's case against Raghuveer was based on a suspicion that he was involved in the murder.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: June 3, 2021 2:11:26 am
Raghuveer Singh. (Archive)

In its detailed order acquitting the son of Sandhya Singh – sister of music composer duo Jatin-Lalit and yesteryear actors Sulakshana and Vijeta Pandit – from charges of murdering her in 2012, the Thane sessions court has said that the prosecution could not establish anything except the fact that the accused was addicted to alcohol and had enmity with mother.

Raghuveer Singh was last month acquitted of charges, including murder, robbery and destruction of evidence, by the court. In the order made available on Wednesday, the court has said that Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s case against Raghuveer was based on a suspicion that he was involved in the murder.

“To convert said suspicion into evidence, the prosecution ought to have proved certain circumstances showing the involvement of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Said circumstances can be recovery of dead body or human remains at the instance of the accused, the recovery of weapon, blood-stained clothes, etc. In the present case, nothing has been recovered or discovered at the instance of the accused. The prosecution has established nothing except the fact that the accused was addicted to drinking and his enmity with his mother Sandhya Singh,” Additional Sessions Judge P P Jadhav said in his order.

Sandhya, the wife of a central excise and customs department commissioner in Indore, had gone missing from Navi Mumbai on December 13, 2012. Parts of her remains were found over a month later near a lake close to her residence in Nerul. Over a year later, Raghuveer was arrested on the basis of statements of domestic helps employed at his home, neighbours and others.

“Suspicion, however strong, does not by itself form part of the evidence. Apart from said suspicion the prosecution has to prove independently that the accused and no one else who is involved in the crime. No such reliable evidence is produced on record by the prosecution against the accused,” the court said, adding that the prosecution could not establish when Sandhya had died.

The prosecution, led by Special Public Prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade, had relied on statements of three domestic helps to accuse Raghuveer of murder. It was alleged that after Sandhya went missing, when a domestic help had asked Raghuveer about her, he had said that his mother would not return. Another witness had said that Raghuveer said that she was dead.

Further, the prosecution alleged that a neighbour had told Raghuveer that Sandhya had told her that a pandit had predicted that she would be murdered at the hands of her son. To this, Raghuveer had allegedly murmured that “she would be”.

While the prosecution called these “extra-judicial confessions”, the court has said that these were neither clear nor self-explanatory. “The alleged statements by the accused are not clear enough to conclude that he (Raghuveer) admitted guilt,” the court added.

Besides the domestic helps, the only family members who deposed in the case were Sandhya’s brother, music composer Lalit, and his wife. They had claimed that Sandhya’s husband was attempting to protect Raghuveer by “misguiding” the police and had asked the couple not to follow-up with the police, as it would “defame” their family in society.

The prosecution had claimed that depositions of domestic helps, Lalit and his wife showed that the relationship between Raghuveer and Sandhya was strained. “Their evidence suspects the motive in the mind of the accused to murder his mother. The suspicion, however strong, cannot become the evidence to establish the involvement of a particular person,” the court has said.

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