The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered a court to expedite the trial in the 2008 murder case of television journalist Soumya Vishwanathan. Justice Mukta Gupta ordered that the trial court should hear the case at least twice every week, PTI reported.
The High Court directed that no adjournment shall be ordered in the case unless there are valid reasons.
Vishwanathan was shot dead on September 30, 2008, while she was driving home at night from work. Three accused, also convicted in the murder of an IT professional Jigisha Ghosh in Delhi in 2009, have been charged in the Vishwanathan case. The trial is currently pending before a sessions judge at the Saket district court.
The High Court was hearing a plea filed by Baljeet Malik, one of the accused, seeking to expedite the trial. Malik sought that the trial be concluded in a fixed time frame on a day-to-day basis, PTI reported.
Earlier this month, the victim’s mother Madhvi Vishwanathan had come out in support of Malik’s petition seeking a speedy trial.
Malik’s lawyer Amit Kumar told the court that the accused has been in police custody since 2009 and the prosecution has cited 88 witnesses, out of which nearly 46 have been examined so far. Kumar argued that it would take another four to five years to complete the proceedings. The accused also claimed that he was charged under provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime because of which he has not been able to secure regular bail.
The trial court told the High Court that the hearing was delayed because of non-presence of prosecution witnesses. The High Court had earlier asked the trial court why the case was not concluded even though a chargesheet was filed over nine years ago.
However, the High Court rejected Malik’s plea seeking direction to the authorities to compensate him with Rs 1 crore for the “unreasonable and inordinate delay” in the investigation and the trial.
The case is listed before the trial court for hearing on March 8.
Jigisha Ghosh’s murder
Jigisha Ghosh was abducted and murdered on March 18, 2009, after she was dropped by her office car around 4 am near her home in Vasant Vihar locality of South Delhi. Her body was recovered three days later from Surajkund in Haryana.
In August 2016, a trial court had sentenced Malik to life in the murder case, and had given the death penalty to Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla. In January last year, the High Court had commuted the death sentence of Kapoor and Shukla to life term.
The recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Ghosh’s murder had led the police to believe that the three men were involved in the murder of Vishwanathan as well. The police claimed that robbery was the motive behind the murders of both Ghosh and Vishwanathan.