The Bombay High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s acquittal of former journalist Jigna Vora in connection with the murder of reporter Jyotirmoy Dey in 2011, PTI reported. The court found no evidence proving Vora had any knowledge of the crime or instigated the killers.

In May 2018, a special court in Mumbai had sentenced gangster Chhota Rajan and eight others to life for their role in the murder, and had acquitted Vora and gangster Joseph Paulson for lack of evidence. A 12th accused had died in 2015.

The Central Bureau of Investigation challenged the acquittals in the High Court. The appeal against Paulson’s acquittal is still pending.

On Tuesday, a bench of justices BP Dharmadhikari and SK Shinde said the agency had failed to provide any direct evidence linking Vora to the murder. “There is no direct evidence showing that the accused had any knowledge of the crime, [so] it cannot be held that Vora was complicit in the conspiracy to kill Dey,” the court said.

Also read: Not just C for Chhota Rajan, murdered journalist J Dey had an A to Z of Mumbai’s underworld

The bench said the CBI’s case was based on phone calls made by Rajan and some witnesses but none of these calls proved that the murder was carried out at Vora’s behest. The High Court pointed out that Rajan did not “mention anywhere that he was instigated by Vora or any other person” even during his “extra judicial confession”, PTI reported.

Dey, a crime reporter with Mid-Day, was shot dead in Mumbai’s Powai locality when he was returning home on June 11, 2011. Charges were framed against Chhota Rajan in September 2016.

According to a chargesheet filed by the CBI, Dey was killed at the behest of the gangster as he was not happy with the journalist’s articles and because Dey was planning to write a book in which Rajan was purportedly portrayed as a “chindi” or small fry. The journalist was about to write a book titled Chindi Rags to Riches, in which he wanted to tell the stories of 20 gangsters.

The CBI claimed that Vora had complained to Rajan about Dey out of professional rivalry. The agency also claimed Vora had given Dey’s photographs and his motorcycle’s registration number to Rajan.

Rajan is in Tihar jail in Delhi at present. He has denied any role in the murder.

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