Soumya Vishwanathan murder case: SC seeks reply of convicts on Delhi Police’s pleas against bail

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Soumya Vishwanathan murder

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine the pleas filed by Delhi Police challenging the high court's order granting bail to four convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment in the murder case of TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma issued notice on the four pleas filed by Delhi Police and tagged them with the pending petition of Vishwanathan's mother against the bail granted to the four convicts.

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for Delhi Police informed the court that since a notice has already been issued by the apex court, all the pleas be tagged.

The bench issued notice and tagged the pleas with the pending matter.

The high court had on February 12 suspended the sentence of Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Singh Malik and Ajay Kumar till the pendency of their appeals challenging their conviction and sentence and enlarged them on bail.

The high court had noted that the convicts have been in custody for over 14 years.

On April 22, the apex court had agreed to examine the plea filed by Vishwanathan's mother against the bail granted to the four convicts. It had issued notices to Delhi Police and the four convicts on Madhavi Vishwanathan's petition.

Vishwanathan, who worked with a leading English news channel, was shot dead in the early hours of September 30, 2008 on Nelson Mandela Marg in south Delhi while she was returning home from work in her car.

A special court had on November 25 last year awarded two life terms to Kapoor, Shukla, Malik and Kumar under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 3(1)(i) (committing organised crime resulting in the death of any person) of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

The court had made it clear that the sentences will run "consecutively".

The fifth convict, Ajay Sethi, was handed down three years of simple imprisonment under section 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of the IPC. He was sentenced to the period already undergone in custody during the trial.

While sentencing Kapoor, Shukla, Malik and Kumar to double life imprisonment, the trial court had also imposed a fine of Rs 1.25 lakh on each of them. It had imposed a fine of Rs 7.25 lakh on Sethi.

Out of the four convicts, Kapoor, Shukla and Malik were also convicted for killing IT professional Jigisha Ghosh. According to the prosecution, the trio later confessed to police they were also behind Vishwanathan's murder, and the weapon used for killing her was recovered from their possession.

Delhi Police had said the motive behind Vishwanathan's killing was robbery.

The trial court had awarded death penalty to Kapoor and Shukla and sentenced Malik to life imprisonment in the 2009 Jigisha Ghosh murder case.

However, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the high court. The high court upheld Malik's life sentence.

According to the prosecution, Kapoor shot Vishwanathan with a country-made pistol while chasing her car to rob her. Shukla, Kumar and Malik were also with Kapoor.

Police recovered the car used in the murder from Sethi.