Updated: February 9, 2017 11:51:45 am
A week after the acquittal of Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the Sunil Joshi murder case, the prosecution has written to the Madhya Pradesh government that “there is no ground for appeal.’’
“There is no direct or circumstantial evidence. All witnesses have turned hostile. I have informed the government that there is no ground for appeal,’’ government pleader Girish Mungi told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
Joshi was found dead in the Chuna Khadan locality near his one-room hideout in Dewas, on December 29, 2007, when he was on the run for his alleged role in the double murder of a tribal Congress leader and his son.
WATCH VIDEO | No Ground For Appeal Against Sadhvi Pragya’s Acquittal: Prosecution Tells MP Government
On February 1 this year, First Additional Sessions Judge, Dewas, acquitted the Sadhvi and seven other accused and pardoned Dilip Jagtap whose plea for becoming an approver had been accepted by the NIA’s Special Court in Bhopal.
A day after the verdict, Joshi’s sister-in-law Shailaja questioned Sadhvi’s acquittal but indicated that the family was indifferent to the verdict or to an appeal.
Records show that the probe into the murder of Joshi, whose death was linked to the larger plot of terror by alleged Hindu extremists, took twists and turns that contradicted each other and prompted the judge to remark: “The analysis of entire evidence reveals that either out of prejudice or some unknown reasons the agencies did not seriously investigate the case and collected weak and mutually contradictory evidence that is not enough to prove the charges. The contrary nature of evidence has cast a serious doubt over the prosecution story.’’
The judge highlighted some glaring contradictions.
Over two years of Joshi’s murder, the MP police made no headway and filed a closure report. It was only in 2010 that ATS in Rajasthan, then under Congress rule, made the first arrest in the case, that of Harshad Solanki, in connection with the Ajmer blast, and brought him to Dewas on transit remand.
The Dewas police claimed that it was Solanki, also an accused in Gujarat’s Best Bakery case, who shot Joshi. According to the police chargesheet filed in the Dewas court in February 2011, Sadhvi was a conspirator and both Solanki and Ramesh — on whose two-wheeler he was riding pillion at the time of murder — had confessed to the crime. Their motive: Joshi was ill-treating his associates.
The NIA took over the investigation in 2011 when UPA was in power.
The NIA claimed it was Rajendra Chaudhary alias Pehelwan, an accused in the Samjhauta train blast case, who had pulled the trigger and was accompanied by Lokesh Sharma when Joshi was killed.
The agency recovered a weapon allegedly used in the murder from Dilip Jagtap’s house, nearly six years after the incident and made him approver. The special court in Bhopal in August 2014, three months after the NDA came to power in Delhi, said there was no conspiracy and that it just a case of murder.
The motive: Joshi made sexual advances towards Sadhvi Pragya Singh and their associates did not like it.
The case was sent back to Dewas court in September 2014. A year later, the Dewas court framed charges against eight accused, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh. Jagtap’s status as approver remained.
During their cross-examination, investigating officers of both agencies, the MP police and the NIA, stuck to their versions.
Each insisted that the other’s set of accused were not present at the scene of the crime prompting the trial court to observe that the prosecution did not have direct or circumstantial evidence to link the accused to the conspiracy, murder, use of illegal weapon and destruction of evidence.
Except for Harshad, a resident of Vadodara, Gujarat, all the accused and the approver belong to Madhya Pradesh. Harshad and three other Best Bakery accused who were living with Joshi in his hideout on the outskirts of Dewas had fled after the murder. In his cross-examination, Harshad claimed he was in Gujarat at the time of the murder.
Sadhvi Pragya Singh had said, “I am committed to religion and a nationalist sanyasi who does not engage in any anti-national activity. I don’t have any role in the case and have been implicated after a political conspiracy.’’
Ramesh, who the Dewas police had claimed was an eyewitness to the murder, was declared hostile after he said he didn’t know how to drive a two-wheeler and that he was not aware of who killed Joshi.
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