|Justice B.D. Ahmed|
Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court acquitted former IPS officer R.K. Sharma and two other accused persons in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case. The Trial court had earlier convicted four accused including R. K. Sharma and found them guilty of the murder of the slain journalist. The Bench comprising Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Manmohan Singh observed as under;
173. Once the link between Pradeep Sharma and the other appellants, insofar as the crime is concerned, is snapped, there is serious doubt about the involvement of the others. Although the motive behind Pradeep Sharma killing Shivani Bhatnagar is unclear and has not been established, we have already found, on the basis of other overwhelming scientific and circumstantial evidence, that Pradeep Sharma was the person who killed Shivani Bhatnagar. Did he act alone? Did he act at the behest of RK Sharma and the other appellants or did he act at the instance of someone else? These are questions which we cannot answer on the basis of the material before us. The quality of evidence before us is not of a high caliber. The key document Ex.PW135/28 is riddled with so many problems that it cannot be relied upon. Judges, like other human beings, also have suspicions but, judges, unlike others who are free to arrive at their own conclusions, cannot and do not convict on the basis of mere suspicion. The prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. We are afraid that the prosecution, in our view, has failed to do so insofar as appellants RK Sharma, Shri Bhagwan Sharma and Satya Prakash are concerned. The prosecution, however, succeeded in proving its case insofar as Pradeep Sharma is concerned. Consequently, Pradeep Sharma's conviction under section 302 IPC stands confirmed and so does the sentence awarded to him. The other three appellants, namely, RK Sharma, Shri Bhagwan Sharma and Satya Prakash get the benefit of doubt and they stand acquitted of all charges. The impugned judgment and order on sentence, insofar as it concerns them, are set aside. They - RK Sharma, Shri Bhagwan Sharma and Satya Prakash are directed to be released forthwith, if not required in any other case. Insofar as Pradeep Sharma is concerned, while the charge under Section 120B IPC is not proved, his conviction under Section 302 IPC and sentence thereon stands confirmed. He shall serve out the rest of his sentence.To read the entire text of the Judgment, Click here.