THE BOMBAY High Court on Tuesday upheld the trial court’s order acquitting former journalist Jigna Vora in the murder of senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, observing that there is no direct evidence to implicate Vora in the case.
A division bench of Justice B P Dharmadhikari and Justice Sandeep Shinde said that there was no direct evidence to show that Vora was part of the conspiracy hatched to kill Dey. The court passed an order in an appeal filed earlier this year by the CBI against the acquittal of Vora.
On Tuesday, CBI counsel Pradip Gharat relied on the statements of the witnesses, stating that Vora complained about Dey to Rajan and that she also gave the registration number of Dey’s bike to Rajan. Gharat added that after the murder, Vora also went on leave without giving any reason.
“A journalist talking to a criminal is fine, as it is a part of their job, but complaining to Chhota Rajan about another journalist (Dey), what was the intention behind that?… What was her reason to complain to the head of a crime syndicate,” he said.
The bench said that the prosecution claimed that Vora was in contact with Rajan but there are no call data records to prove so. The bench also noted that the prosecution has submitted call records between a witness and Rajan, which stated that Jigna complained about Dey to Rajan. The court said that it was not enough to grant leave to appeal for the CBI.
Vora was first named as an accused in the case by the Mumbai Police and later by the CBI, alleging that she had “instigated” Rajan to carry out the fatal attack on Dey. The trial court, in May last year, while acquitting her, observed that there was “no trustworthy evidence” against her. It further said that perhaps the prosecution was also aware of the quality of evidence against her and had, hence, not addressed arguments against her with much force.
In order to prove its case against Vora, the prosecution examined four witnesses before the trial court. Regarding their testimony, the court observed, “There is nothing in their evidence to suggest that the accused. Jigna Vora had instigated.Chhota Rajan to commit the murder of J Dey or that she had any other role in this offence. In fact, even in the various extrajudicial confessions made by. Rajan. he has nowhere stated that he got J Dey murdered because of the instigation by. Vora or anybody else.”
The trial court further observed: “Even the recovery of various mobile phones and SIM cards of Vora and the relevant CDRs fail to connect. Vora with the offence in question. Hence.Vora has to be acquitted of all the charges against her.”
At the time of her arrest, Vora was working as a senior journalist with The Asian Age and wrote on the underworld and crime. While her arrest on November 25, 2011 from Ghatkopar had shocked journalists, the Mumbai Police maintained that they had ‘prima facie’ evidence of her involvement.
She was granted bail by the special court in July 2017 despite being booked under sections of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
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