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Shivani Bhatnagar murder: SC issues notices to R K Sharma

February 13, 2012 14:23 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday sought dismissed Indian Police Service officer R K Sharma's response on a Delhi police plea challenging his acquittal in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai issued notices also to Sri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash, who too were acquitted by the Delhi high court in the sensational 1999 murder of the Indian Express scribe in her East Delhi flat.

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The city police has challenged the October 12, 2011 verdict of the high court, which had acquitted Sharma and two others, giving them the benefit of doubt. Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval contended that the high court had ignored important circumstantial evidence based on telephonic records in deciding the case.

The high court had only upheld the conviction of Pradeep Sharma, one of the four persons, found guilty by the trial court. It had said although the motive behind the killing of the scribe was unclear, it raised questions whether Pradeep Sharma acted alone or at the behest of R K Sharma and others or at the instance of someone else.

The high court bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Manmohan Singh had said the prosecution has failed to establish the link between R K Sharma and the killer and even the crucial records relating to the call details were tampered with and could not be relied upon. "These are questions which we cannot answer on the basis of the material before us. The quality of evidence before us is not of high calibre," the high court had said, adding that the call records, the key documents, were riddled with so many problems that they could not be relied upon.

The high court had said the prosecution failed to prove the motive behind the offence and the link among three co-accused, who were acquitted, and Pradeep Sharma, the man who killed Shivani in her east Delhi flat Navkunj Apartment on January 23, 1999.

It had rejected the prosecution's plea that Shivani was eliminated at the instance of erstwhile Air India's Vigilance Director R K Sharma, as he wanted to get out of their "full-blown love affair".

The scribe had threatened Sharma that she would expose him, the prosecution had alleged, adding it amply established the motive behind the murder, which had also been supported by the call details of Shivani's land-line phone and the mobile phone of the IPS officer.

The scribe was in possession of certain classified documents and had threatened the IPS officer that she would expose him by making them public, the prosecution had alleged. The IPS officer's lukewarm response on the birth of Shivani's child irked her and she threatened to ruin Sharma's life and career, the prosecution had alleged, adding as a result, Sharma had hatched the conspiracy to kill her.

Sharma had spent nearly 10 years in jail, before he was acquitted by the high court on October 12, last year. Suspended on August 23, 2002 after his alleged role surfaced in the crime, Sharma had surrendered before a court on September 27, 2002.

The trial court had sentenced him and three others to life imprisonment on March 24, 2008.

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