Sacked Uttarakhand minorities panel chief Sukhdev Singh Namdhari on Thursday told the Delhi high court that the lower court had rightly dropped the murder charge levelled against him and 20 others in the case relating to the 2012 shootout in which liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep were killed.
Opposing the Delhi police move against a trial court order to drop murder charge against all 21 accused in the case, Namdhari said the finding of the trial court was fair enough and cannot be challenged
Namdhari in his over 20-page reply filed before a bench of Justice Indermeet Kaur, who had on July 8 issued a notice to him and others on the revision petition of the Delhi police, said the allegations were being levelled against his client to defame him.
The police assailed the trial court order, passed on January 15, to drop the serious murder charge against the accused who were connected to Ponty and Hardeep and allegedly fired at each other in connection with a property dispute between the brothers.
Namdhari's advocate R S Malik, who had before the trial court maintained that his client was innocent and did not open fire at Hardeep, said there is no illegality in the charge-framing order of the lower court.
Meanwhile, the remaining 20 accused sought more time to file their responses on the police appeal against the trial court findings. The high court has now asked the remaining accused to file their replies before October 16.
The trial court had dropped the murder charge against all the accused. It, however, had added the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the alleged main conspirator Namdhari and his personal security officer Sachin Tyagi, which entails maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Ponty and Hardeep, who allegedly had a property dispute, were killed in a shootout at a Chhattarpur farmhouse here on November 17, 2012.
Ponty and Hardeep were also named in the chargesheet in the case. However, the trial against them has abated as they were killed in the shootout. The lower court had given elaborate reasons for dropping the murder charge and invoking the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against Namdhari and Sachin.
It had said that the November 17, 2012 shootout that resulted in the killing of Ponty and Hardeep "seems to be an event which happened suddenly and unexpectedly".
The trial court had framed attempt to murder charge against the remaining 19 accused, excluding Namdhari and Sachin, in the case. Besides attempt to murder, the court had also framed charges against them under various provisions, including dacoity, rioting with deadly weapons, house trespass, illegal confinement, kidnapping, causing grievous harm and destruction of evidence of the Indian Penal Code.
It had also framed charges for offences including 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.
The Delhi police had filed two chargesheets 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.