A Delhi court will commence trial from March 28 against 21 accused, including sacked Uttarakhand minorities panel chief Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, in the shootout case involving liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his younger brother Hardeep at a farmhouse in 2012.
Additional Sessions Judge Vimal Kumar Yadav, who dropped murder charges against all 21 accused, however, added offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against alleged main conspirator Namdhari and his Personal Security Officer Sachin Tyagi. It entails maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
"Now, the case is listed for March 28 for recording of the statement of prosecution witnesses," the court said. The sessions court gave elaborate reasons for dropping murder charge and invoking culpable homicide not amounting to murder against Namdhari and Sachin.
It said the November 17, 2012 shootout that resulted in the killing of Ponty and Hardeep "seems to be an event which happened suddenly and unexpectedly".
"Appearance of Hardeep Singh at the scene was sudden and unexpected, it was he who had fired at the injured Narender Ahlawat (Ponty's manager who is also an accused in the case) and also pumped in several bullets into elder brother Gurdeep Singh Chadha (Ponty).
"Thereafter, Namdhari and Sachin used their fire arms and shot Hardeep which resulted in his death... Thus, these acts bring in the culpable homicide by Namdhari and Sachin, within domain of exception 4 of section 300 of the IPC," the court said while framing charges against the accused persons.
Meanwhile, the remaining 19 accused were charged under attempt to murder in connection with the incident.
Besides attempt to murder, the court has framed charges against them under provisions of the IPC, including dacoity, rioting with deadly weapons, house trespass, illegal confinement, kidnapping, causing grievous harm and destruction of evidence.
Ponty and Hardeep were also charge sheeted in the case. However, the trial has against them has abated as they were killed in the shootout.
The court also framed charges of criminal conspiracy, common intention and those under the Arms Act against all the 21 accused for trying to take over the disputed farmhouse from the possession of Hardeep.
Ponty and Hardeep, who allegedly had a property dispute, were killed in a shootout at a Chhattarpur farmhouse on November 17, 2012.
The Delhi police had filed two charge sheets in the case and levelled murder charges against all the 21 accused. The first charge sheet had named Ponty as an accused as he had reached the place of the incident with Namdhari and others as part of his "well-hatched conspiracy" to take possession of the south Delhi farm house
The supplementary charge sheet had accused Hardeep in the case, saying the probe has shown Ponty was killed by the shot fired at him by his brother.