A Delhi court on Tuesday acquitted five people who were arrested for allegedly plotting to kill Tehelka magazine journalists Tarun Tejpal and Anirudha Bahal in May 2001.
The five men were alleged to have plotted with Pakistan's ISI to kill the journalists after their expose on alleged corruption in defence deals.
"Even falsehood is sometimes given a clever appearance of truth, so that truth disappears and falsehood comes on the surface. This appears to be one of those cases," Additional Sessions Judge Gurvinder Pal Singh said.
The accused Anil Kumar Sehrawat, Rakesh Solanki, Raj Kumar and Ombir are residents of Delhi, while Dinesh Kumar Tyagi is a resident of Ghaziabad. The Delhi Police had arrested them along with alleged gangleader Bhupinder Tyagi, a native of Bihar, on May 4, 2001, on charges of working at the behest of ISI to kill Tejpal and Bahal.
Slapping charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and forgery, the police had alleged that the accused had plotted to "eliminate" Tejpal and Bahl to create political instability in the country and to bring hatred, contempt and disaffection among Indians towards the government of India.
On a tip-off by intelligence agencies, sleuths of the Delhi Police's special cell had intercepted a Tata Safari vehicle on May 4, 2001, allegedly laden with a large cache of arms and ammunition and counterfeit Indian currency, and had arrested the six persons.
The arms and ammunition allegedly recovered from them included an AK-47 assault rifle, loaded pistols and ammunition, and fake Indian currency worth Rs 25,000. The police also recoverd a paper titled "Operation Westened Ka Bhandafod" with rough sketches and maps of Delhi, highlighting the office of the two journalists.
Tyagi died in July 2008 while trying to escape from prison and the trial against him was abated. The police had produced 21 witnesses including Tejpal and Bahal, but they failed to impress the court and establish beyond doubt the guilt of the five surviving accused.
"No fingerprints were lifted from the vehicle the accused used, bags in which the arms were kept and from the arms and ammunition. Had such fingerprints been lifted, it would have furnished strong corroborative evidence," the court said.
"It has also not been established beyond reasonable doubt that there existed de-facto relation of control or dominion of the accused over fire arms or ammunition recovered," the court noted.