Delhi's Saket court on Wednesday (18 October) handed down murder convictions to all the accused in the 2008 murder case of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan. The journalist was fatally shot on 30 September 2008, while returning home from work in her car around 3:30 am.
During the pronouncement of the verdict, the court recorded the attendance of all the accused, namely Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Ajit, Baljit, Ajay Sethi, and Ajay Kumar, News 18 reported.
The court, in delivering the verdict, asserted that it is "beyond doubt that the accused people murdered Saumya Vishwanathan with an intention to rob her."
Additional Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Pandey, who had reserved judgment on 13 October after arguments by the defense and prosecution, oversaw the case. The recovery of the weapon used in the killing of IT executive Jigisha Ghosh led to a breakthrough in Vishwanathan's murder case.
The police had claimed that the motive behind Soumya Vishwanathan's killing was robbery. The accused—Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik, Ajay Kumar, and Ajay Sethi—had been in custody since March 2009, and the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was invoked against them.
In 2019, Baljeet Malik moved a plea in the Delhi High Court for a speedy trial, prompting the high court to seek a report from the trial court on the delay in concluding the trial, nine-and-a-half years after the chargesheet was filed.
The trial court cited the non-presence of prosecution witnesses and the time taken for the appointment of a special public prosecutor as the primary reasons for the delay.
It's noteworthy that in the Jigisha Ghosh murder case, the trial court had previously awarded the death penalty to Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla, while Baljeet Malik received a life term.
However, in January 2018, the high court commuted the death sentence of Kapoor and Shukla to life imprisonment while upholding Malik's life term.
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