The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of dismissed IPS officer R K Sharma on the prosecution’s plea challenging his acquittal in journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case on the ground that the Delhi High Court had ignored the “best pieces” of circumstantial evidence.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai issued notices to Sharma and two of his alleged accomplices Sri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash, who were also acquitted by the High Court, to respond to the Delhi Police contention that the High Court had erred in its judgement by not discussing evidence of telephonic records which held key to the prosecution theory.
Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval stressed on the evidence of telephonic records after the bench pointed out that the prosecution theory has been torn apart by the High Court on the ground of several anomalies.
“The High Court has torn apart your case, rightly so on the ground of anomalies”, the bench said.
However, Raval said the trial court had convicted Sharma and others on the same pieces of evidence by giving credence to the telephonic records which were totally ignored by the High Court.
“There are independent pieces of evidence. The call details of Sri Bhagwan clearly show that Sharma was in contact with him,” the ASG said and added there were other independent witnesses and circumstantial evidence pointing the finger towards Sharma.
“There is no discussion of telephonic calls by the High Court in its judgement. These records not at all discussed by the High Court. The best part of the evidence in the form of calls to Sharma by other accused was not considered by the High Court. This evidence was completely assuaged by the High Court,” Raval told the bench.
Delhi Police, in the appeal, said the High Court had erred in acquitting Sharma and the two others despite a clear chain of evidence along with circumstantial proof to indicate their close involvement in the conspiracy to kill the scribe in her Navkunj Apartments flat in Patparganj in east Delhi on January 21, 1999.
Police have challenged the October 12, 2011, verdict of the high court which had acquitted Sharma and two others, giving them the benefit of doubt.
The High Court had upheld only the conviction of Pradeep Sharma, one of the four persons, found guilty by the trial court.
The Delhi Police said the criminal conspiracy masterminded by Sharma was evident from the telephone records of the acquitted persons who allegedly planned to hire Pradeep Sharma to eliminate the journalist.
Sharma’s counsel had pleaded before the High Court that Delhi Police had tampered with the telephone records to implicate him in the case.
At the time of the murder, R K Sharma was working in the Prime Minister’s Office.
He had absconded immediately after his name surfaced as an accused in the case and surrendered in September 2002.
The high court had said although the motive behind the killing of the scribe was unclear and raised questions whether Pradeep Sharma acted alone or at the behest of 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.