Delhi’s Saket court delivered its verdict on Wednesday in the long-standing 15-year-old murder case of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan. The court convicted five individuals under the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
The court found four of the accused, namely Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik, and Ajay Kumar, guilty of the murder, charging them under sections 302, 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and 3(1)(I) of MCOCA. The fifth accused, Ajay Sethi, received a conviction for the possession of stolen property under 411 IPC and 3(2) and 3(5) of MCOCA. Importantly, Ajay Sethi was acquitted of the murder charge.
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) delivered the judgment, affirming that the prosecution had established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused, led by Ravi and others, had committed the murder with the intention to rob the victim.
The court also ruled that all accused individuals were convicted of offenses under MCOCA, marking a pivotal moment in the legal proceedings.
In the aftermath of the verdict, the court instructed both the prosecution and the accused to submit affidavits. The Secretary of Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA) was directed to provide a report on the accused’s status under the victim compensation scheme and the expenses incurred in prosecuting the case.
The parents of the deceased, MK Vishwanathan and Madhvi Vishwanathan, were present in the court and expressed their contentment with the court’s judgment.
A detailed judgment on the case is anticipated in due course. Notably, the Delhi Police invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) due to the prior criminal records of the convicted individuals. This case harks back to the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan, which occurred on September 30, 2008, when she was shot dead while returning home after her night shift.
The case came to light during the investigation of the murder of call center executive Jigisha Ghosh, who was killed on March 19, 2009. In the pursuit of justice, the Delhi Police arrested Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, and Baljeet Malik on March 28, 2009. They were arrested in connection with this case based on their disclosure statements.
On June 22, 2009, the Delhi Police filed the first charge sheet against all five accused under section 302 (murder) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. Charges were framed against all accused individuals, with the exception of Ajay Sethi, for the offense of murder.
On October 8, 2009, the first supplementary charge sheet was filed by the Delhi Police under MCOCA against accused Ravi Kapoor. Subsequently, Delhi Police also booked all other accused persons in this case.
During the legal proceedings, Advocate Amit Kumar, representing accused Amit Shukla and Baljeet Malik, argued that the sanctions under MCOCA were granted mechanically without proper consideration. It was further contended that there was a lack of evidence to establish the shared common intention of these accused individuals to commit the alleged murder. Additionally, the absence of eyewitnesses or CCTV footage to substantiate the participation of these accused persons in the case was emphasized.
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