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Rediff.com  » News » Chhota Rajan, 8 others get life in jail for 'cold-blooded' killing of J Dey

Chhota Rajan, 8 others get life in jail for 'cold-blooded' killing of J Dey

Last updated on: May 02, 2018 23:33 IST

This is Rajan's first major conviction since he was deported to India following his arrest at the Bali airport in Indonesia in 2015.

Nearly seven years after senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was shot dead in Mumbai, a special court on Wednesday awarded life term to all the nine convicted, including gangster Chhota Rajan, observing it was a "cold-blooded" murder.

Judge Sameer Adkar, who presided over the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court, however, acquitted former journalist Jigna Vora, charged with instigating Rajan to carry out the killing in June 2011.

 

Vora broke down in the court soon after her acquittal was announced by the judge.

The judge also acquitted Paulson Joseph, accused of handling the financial operations concerned with the conspiracy.

The court imposed a fine of Rs 26 lakh on each of the convicts under various sections of the IPC, the Arms Act, and the MCOCA.

One of the convicts, Deepak Sisodiya, was given an additional seven-year jail term under the Arms Act. Both his sentences will run concurrently.

Dey was shot by two motorcycle-borne men on June 11, 2011 in suburban Powai when he was on his way home. He was then working as a senior editor with the tabloid 'Mid Day'.

Awarding life sentence to the convicts, the court held the prosecution had succeeded in establishing the incident was an organised crime committed by Rajan's "crime syndicate".

This is Rajan's first major conviction since he was deported to India following his arrest at the Bali airport in Indonesia in 2015.

The court held that the evidence on record proved that the 56-year-old journalist's murder was well planned.

In convicting Rajan and the others, Judge Adkar relied primarily upon the extra-judicial confessions (a confession made outside of a court, or, not in front of a law officer) made by the 61-year-old gangster himself.

The court took note of the several phone calls that Rajan made to his aides, and some journalists, whereby, he expressed his guilt over having got Dey killed.

Rajan's lawyer had contested the veracity of the voice samples that the CBI had collected and claimed belonged to the underworld don.

The court, however, held that the voice sample could be accepted as credible evidence.

The judge observed the prosecution had examined some of the journalists who had received such phone calls from Rajan and that they had no reason to falsely implicate the gangster.

"It is clear that the evidence from these witnesses (three journalists) regarding the phone calls made to them by the accused Chhota Rajan confessing his guilt is cogent, trustworthy and reliable. There is nothing suspicious about their evidence.

"These witnesses were senior and experienced journalists. They were independent witnesses. There was no reason for them to depose falsely. There is no evidence to show there was any previous concert between these witnesses to falsely implicate the accused Chhota Rajan," the court said.

The extra judicial confessions have passed the test of credibility, it noted.

"The extra judicial confessions made by the accused Chhota Rajan to them do not suffer from any inherent improbabilities. The words spoken to by these witnesses are clear, unambiguous and unmistakably convey that the accused Chhota Rajan is responsible for the murder of J Dey," the judge maintained in his 600-page judgement.

The court also relied upon the recovery of several SIM cards, mobile phones, and other personal articles belonging to the convicts, including the gun used to fire at Dey from the crime spot as credible pieces of evidence that linked all the convicts to the case.

It rejected the defence's request to show leniency to the convicts on account of their own ill health, or considering that most of them had young children, and ailing parents to take care of.

"The murder of J Dey was a cold-blooded act. The accused have criminal antecedents. One of the accused is HIV positive. But, that is no ground to show leniency considering the nature of the offence, and the manner in which the offence was committed," the judge said.

The court acquitted Vora, 44, and Joseph for want of evidence.

The CBI had alleged Joseph provided the SIM cards and some money to help execute the conspiracy to kill Dey. The prosecution, however, failed to submit adequate evidence to establish the same.

According to the prosecution, the killing was carried out at the behest of Rajan, who had purportedly been 'unhappy' with the negative reports that Dey had been writing on his health and his diminishing clout in the crime world.

Rajan, who appeared during today's court proceedings via video conferencing from New Delhi's Tihar jail where he is lodged, said "theek hai" (alright) when the judge read out the sentence and asked if he wanted to say anything.

Last year, Rajan was convicted by a court in Delhi and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in a fake passport case.

The prosecution had examined 155 witnesses in the case.

A total of 12 accused were arrested in the case, including Rajan, Satish Kalya, the shooter, and Vora. One of the accused, Vinod Asrani, died in 2015 after prolonged illness.

The accused were booked under various sections of the IPC related to murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence and under relevant sections of the MCOCA and the Arms Act.

The prosecution earlier demanded the maximum punishment (death penalty) for the convicts, saying Dey, as a journalist, represented the fourth pillar of democracy.

Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat had said the court, while sentencing, must keep in mind it needed to send out a "strong message".

 
 
 
 
J Dey murder case: Chronology of events

June 11, 2011: Journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, 56, shot dead near Hiranandani Gardens in suburban Powai. A case of murder filed at the Powai police station and the probe transferred to the Crime Branch.

June 27: Mumbai Crime Branch arrests seven people, including the shooter, Satish Kaliya, and others Abhijit Shinde, Arun Dake, Sachin Gaikwad, Anil Waghmode, Nilesh Shendge and Mangesh Agawane. Based on their questioning, the police arrests three more accused -- Vinod Asrani, Deepak Sisodia and Paulson Joseph.

July 7: Provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) invoked against the accused.

November 25: Journalist Jigna Vora arrested on charges of instigating gangster Chhota Rajan to plan the killing.

December 3: The Crime Branch files charge sheet in the case. Two persons -- Chhota Rajan and Nayansingh Bisht -- shown as wanted accused.

February 21, 2012: A supplementary chargesheet filed against Vora.

July 27: Vora gets bail.

April 10, 2015: Asrani dies in jail after prolonged illness.

June 8: The court frames charges against 11 accused under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections of 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 34 (common intention), along with relevant provisions of the MCOCA and the Arms Act.

October 25: Rajan arrested at Bali in Indonesia and deported to India. Later, lodged at Tihar Jail in Delhi.

January 5, 2016: The case transferred to the CBI.

November 7: Dey's wife Shubha Sharma deposes before the court, tells he was tensed since a week before the killing.

August 31, 2017: The special MCOCA court frames charges against Rajan.

February 22, 2018: The prosecution completes its final arguments.

April 2: The court records Rajan's final statement under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Rajan produced before the court from Tihar jail via video conference link.

April 3: The defence completes its arguments. The special MCOCA court reserves its judgement in case till May 2.

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