Shivani Bhatnagar case: Ex-Haryana top cop RK Sharma acquitted; cops to move SC
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday acquitted former senior IPS officer Ravi Kant Sharma and two others in the sensational killing of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar in 1999.
The court, however, upheld the conviction and life sentence of the fourth accused, Pradeep Sharma, who had killed the scribe, then working with the Indian Express.
"Accused R K Sharma, Sri Bhagwan Sharma and Satya Prakash get the benefit of doubt. We, however, uphold the conviction of Pradeep Sharma in the case," said a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Manmohan Singh, deciding the appeals by the four against their conviction and sentence in the murder case.
Shivani Bhatnagar was killed in her Navkunj Apartment flat at I P Extension in East Delhi on January 23, 1999.
"We will go through the judgement and then proceed with the filing of appeal before the honourable Supreme Court," Delhi government's standing counsel Pawan Sharma told reporters.
"The appeal of hired killer Pradeep Sharma was dismissed and his life imprisonment was upheld but the three other accused were acquitted, giving benefit of doubt to them," he said.
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Image: File photo of RK Sharma (Inset) Shivani Bhatnagar
Shivani Bhatnagar case: Ex-Haryana top cop RK Sharma acquitted
The lower court had on March 24, 2008, convicted four persons including R K Sharma, who had once served as officer on special duty in the Prime Minister's office.
The trial court, however, had acquitted co-accused Dev Prakash Sharma and Ved alias Kalu in the case.
The high court had reserved the final order on appeals by Sharma and three other convicts after hearing their arguments as well as those of the prosecution.
Sharma's counsel had argued there were several missing links, including the call records, in the chain of circumstances and the record was tampered with to implicate him.
The lawyer had sought acquittal of his client on the ground of lacunae in the transcript of the mobile phone calls between his client and other accomplices to substantiate his allegation that the police had fabricated the call records.
Standing Counsel (Criminal) Pawan Sharma had countered the defence submission contending the accused was posted in the Prime Minister's Office and if any call record was tampered with at all, it was done by Sharma.
Abhijit Sharma, the son of Satya Prakash, who was acquitted by the high court, claimed his father was falsely implicated and their family was happy with the verdict.
"Justice was delayed but not denied to us. He was falsely implicated in the case. I was in standard eight when my father who had a property business was taken away. We (I and my sisters) had a tough time without parents. We were brought up by our maternal grandfather and are very happy that our father will join us," Sharma said.