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SC wants Madhumita murder trial in Delhi
January 22, 2007 18:05 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the CBI to examine the feasiblity of shifting the trial of poetess Madhumita Shukla murder case from Lucknow to Delhi, following allegations that atmosphere in the state was not conducive for fair trial.
The case involves controversial former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathy.
"We are conscious of the fact that CBI is endorsing the complainant's allegation," a Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice V S Sirpurkar observed while directing the agency to prepare the list of witnesses and to look into the modalities required for shifting the trial.
"Justice has to be done for both parties," it said. "This is a high-profile case and there is no doubt about it."
Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for victim's sister Nidhi Shukla, said the climate in the state was not conducive for a fair trial as threats were given to key witnesses and even money was offered to the complainant.
The counsel alleged that Nidhi, who was a complainant and a key witness in the case, has been threatened and even offered Rs 1 crore on behalf of the accused and she was not in a position to move out of her house.
Jaiswal said even Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had, in April, 2005 come out with a statement in favour of the accused.
The complainant's allegations were substantiated by the CBI as Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian said the activities of the former minister were in violation of the jail manual and the probe by the agency found that he was using moblie phones and has free access to visitors and even hosted parties in the prison.
The CBI said even the trial court has noted that witnesses were being influenced to turn hostile.
The ASG said CBI had written a letter to the principal secretary, UP, and IG (prison) of the state about the alleged misconduct of the accused and in his reply, the secretary said there was no violation of jail manual.
However, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, opposing the shifting of the trial, said CBI has a problem with the jail and not with the accused.
Further, the petition seeking transfer of the trial was with oblique consideration as out of the 202 witnesses only two had come before this court.
He submitted that if the trial was shifted it would not only be difficult for the witnesses to come to Delhi for deposition but would also cause hardship for the accused.
At this, the ASG said since most of the witnesses are police officials it would not be difficult for them to come and depose in Delhi and as far as Tripathy was concerned, he could be shifted to Tihar Jail in the capital.
However, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for two other co-accused Santosh Rai and Prakash, said it could not be a case for shifting the trial just because one person has complained.
The apex court had on January 16 last stayed the trial of the case in which besides Tripathy, his wife Madhumani is also a co-accused.
Also, it had on September 26, 2005, cancelled the bail of the couple saying they tried to interfere with the course of probe to derail the case.
The poetess was shot dead at her Lucknow residence on May 9, 2003.
The CBI has alleged Tripathy and his wife conspired to eliminate her as she was carrying the child of Amarmani with whom she had developed an intimate relationship.