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Soumya Vishwanathan murder case: HC orders expeditious trial


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Delhi High Court Wednesday ordered expeditious trial of the 2008 murder case of TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan.
Justice Mukta Gupta directed the trial court to hear the case at least twice every week.
"The trial court is directed to expedite the trial for speedy disposal of the case," the high court said.
The court passed the order on a plea by one of the accused, Baljeet Malik, seeking to expedite and conclude the trial in a fixed time frame on day-to-day basis.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police (south) was also directed to assign the task of monitoring to additional DCP to ensure the presence of prosecution witnesses on every date of hearing.
Advocate Amit Kumar, appearing for Malik, submitted that the accused was in custody since 2009 and the prosecution has cited 88 witnesses of which approximately 45 to 46 have been examined till now.
He said it will take another four to five years to complete the proceedings and urged for a speedy trial.
The high court was informed by the trial court that the delay in the case was primarily due to non-presence of prosecution witnesses and due to the time taken for the appointment of a special public prosecutor.
It had earlier sought a report from the trial court as to why the trial had not concluded nine and a half years after the charge sheet was filed.
The high court also made it clear that no adjournment shall be given in the case unless there are some valid reasons. The case is listed for hearing before the trial court on March 8.
The high court, however, rejected the plea of 30-year-old Malik seeking direction to the authorities to compensate him with Rs 1 crore for the unreasonable and inordinate delay in investigation and trial of the case.
Soumya was shot dead on September 30, 2008 while she was returning home in her car from office.
The trial of the case is pending before a sessions judge in Saket district court here.
The plea said Malik was charged with the stringent provisions of MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime) due to which he has not been able to secure regular bail and it was his constitutional right to have a speedy trial.
"The unreasonable delay in investigation and trial of the case is not only prejudiced the right of the petitioner (accused) but also the right of family of deceased (Soumya)," it said.
Malik along with two others -- Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla -- were earlier convicted in the 2009 IT executive Jigisha Ghosh murder case.
The trial court had awarded death penalty to Kapoor and Shukla and life term to Malik.
The high court had commuted the death sentence of Kapoor and Shukla and upheld the life term of Malik in the Jigisha murder case.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jigisha, an operations manager in a management consultancy firm, was abducted and killed on March 18, 2009 after she was dropped by her office cab around 4 am near her home in Vasant Vihar area of South Delhi.
Her body was recovered three days later from a place near Surajkund in Haryana.
Recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Jigisha's murder had led to the cracking of the murder case of Soumya.
Police had claimed robbery as the motive behind the killing of both Jigisha and Soumya.

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First Published: Feb 27 2019 | 5:15 PM IST

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