Artist Chintan Upadhyay was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Friday, nearly six years after he was arrested for the murder of his estranged wife, artist Hema Upadhyay, and her lawyer, PTI reported.
The bodies of Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harsh Bhambhani were found cut and stuffed in cardboard boxes, and thrown in a drain in the northern Mumbai suburb of Kandivali on December 12, 2015. Chintan Upadhyay was arrested on December 22, 2015.
There are four other accused persons arrested in the case. Another accused, Vidyadhar Rajbhar, is missing.
Chintan and Hema Upadhyay had filed for divorce in 2010. The police have alleged that Vidyadhar Rajbhar, along with other accused, murdered Hema and her lawyer at her husband’s behest, because of the enmity due to the divorce proceedings, The Indian Express reported.
The Supreme Court on Friday noted that Chintan Upadhyay has been in jail for nearly six years. “The trial is in progress and 28 witnesses have been examined and 12 witnesses are yet to be examined,” a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai said, according to PTI.
The Supreme Court granted Upadhyay bail on the condition that he should not live in Mumbai and should visit the city only to attend court. The court also said that he must not try to influence witnesses, and must report to the local police at the place of his residence on the first day of each month.
The court directed him to submit his passport to the trial court within a week.
The bench also directed that his trial should be completed expeditiously, preferably within six months.
Upadhyay, along with Pradip Kumar Rajbhar, had earlier sought temporary bail citing the surge in Covid-19 cases. However, a local court had rejected the petition, saying that the arrested accused were in a “secure situation” compared to people outside.
Upadhyay, in his petition before the Supreme Court, alleged that there had been undue delay in the trial, The Times of India reported. He also claimed that there was not enough evidence against him.
He cited an RTI reply that purportedly showed that an incriminating diary cited by the prosecution did not exist. The police alleged that Upadhyay had, in a diary entry, written about his hate towards his wife.