Shraddha Walkar case: Aftab Poonawala charged with murder, disappearance of evidence
9 May, 2023 | Pragati Singh
Shraddha Walkar case
Aftab Amin Poonawala was charged with murder and causing the disappearance of evidence in a Saket court in Delhi on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the accused has denied the charges and requested a trial. On May 18, 2022, Shraddha Walkar was allegedly murdered by Aftab in the Mehrauli area. Her body parts were thrown into the jungle of the national capital’s Chhatarpur Pahadi area, and she was arrested in November 2022.
Additional Meetings Judge (ASJ) Manisha Khurana Kakkar framed the charges for murder and evidence disappearance under Sections 302 and 201 IPC. According to the court, there is sufficient evidence and a prima facie case against the accused.
“Do you plead guilty or claim trial,” the court asked to which Poonawala said, “I don’t plead guilty and will face the trial.”
Following that, the court scheduled the trial and recording of prosecution evidence for June 1. Advocate Akshay Bhandari argued that the accused could not be charged concurrently with murder and evidence destruction. These two charges are interchangeable. This fact should be taken into account when framing the charge.
He also argued, based on the superior court’s decision, that the accused should not be sentenced for the main offence and the crime of evidence destruction. The accused cannot be charged for both offences at the same time, according to the counsel.
Seema Kushwaha, an advocate, had filed an application on behalf of Vikas Walkar, Shraddha’s father, for the release of the deceased’s bones.
He has also requested that the bones be displayed as soon as possible so that he can perform the last rites within a year of death. The Delhi police will respond on the next date.
The owner of the property where the offence was committed had also approached the court, requesting that the premises be de-sealed. On April 3, the court took the copy of the judgement filed by Special Public Prosecutors (SPP) Amit Prasad and Madhukar Pandey on record.
SPP Amit Prasad argued that there is a clear ruling that a charge under Section 201 of the IPC can be filed against the person who destroys evidence in order to protect the main offender as well as the person who committed the main offence.
Previously, the counsel for accused Aftab had argued that the charges of murder and evidence disappearance could not be framed together. These charges can be phrased differently. Advocate Akshay Bhandari argued that Aftab could be charged with either murder or making the evidence disappear. The accused cannot be charged with murder and evidence disappearance under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC, the counsel argued. It can be framed in a variety of ways.
Advocate Bhandari contended that simply saying “I (Aftab) am guilty of murder” is insufficient. They only have eyewitness statements. The Prosecution must demonstrate how the crime was committed.
SPP Amit Prasad argued that joint charges for evidence disappearance could be filed under Section 201.
He also claimed that a chain of evidence, witness statements, a record of past events and circumstances, forensic evidence, manner of offence, and other evidence were presented to the court. The Delhi Police closed its case on a murder charge and the disappearance of evidence against the accused.