After split verdict, 3 convicted in murder case by third judge

A murder case, which saw a split verdict earlier by a division bench of the Delhi High Court, has now been decided by a third judge leading to conviction and awarding of life sentence to three men and acquittal of two others.

While deciding the reference on appeals of the five men, Justice Sanjiv Khanna noted in the beginning that difference of opinion between the two judges was primarily on the question of the identification of the perpetrators by the eyewitness and on some other aspects.

While Justice Gita Mittal had acquitted the five accused — Sushil Arora, Rajesh Pandey, Hemant Garg, Vishnu and Sonveer, they all were held guilty by Justice R K Gauba for the offence of murdering a youth in 2009 on ridge road near Dhaula Kuan here. The trial court too had earlier convicted all the five men.

After the split verdict, the matter was placed before Justice Khanna who acquitted Arora and Pandey by giving them benefit of doubt and convicted Garg, Vishnu and Sonveer.

“It would, therefore, not be possible to ignore and brush off the statements made by the said witnesses identifying Hemant Garg, Sonveer and Vishnu, on the argument of fleeting glimpse. On the other hand, their identification carries weight and deserves affirmation as correct,” the court said.

According to the police, on February 22, 2009 some persons travelling in an Indica car had chased a black Santro car and near Simon Boliver Marg T-point on ridge road they had shot dead one of the occupants of the first car and also injured another.

Justice Khanna concurred with the punishment awarded by Justice Gauba and sentenced the three convicts to life imprisonment.

The trial court had held that the five men had conspired to commit the murder after a quarrel between them and acquaintances of the murdered youth, Ankit Minocha, over default of a loan of Rs 10 lakh.

As per the police, the loan to Arora was given by one Mahender Singh and when he had not repaid it, Singh had gone to collect the amount with some of his friends, including Minocha.

After a quarrel over the repayment, Singh and others left in two cars, one of them a black Santro in which Minocha was travelling, police had said and added that when the black car reached Buddha garden, they stopped for buying soft drinks and it was then when the other side overtook them and started firing at them.

Minocha was shot in the head, and later died in hospital, while another occupant of the car was injured in his leg by a bullet, police had said.

Justice Mittal, who had headed the division bench, had said the accused ought to be acquitted as the prosecution has failed to establish any common intention of the five to commit the murder, there was delay in lodging an FIR and there was no evidence that the convicts were in vehicle from which the weapons were found.

Justice Gauba, differing with the view of Justice Mittal, had said the complicity of each appellant has been proved through cogent evidence by the prosecution beyond the pale of all doubts and thus, there was no reason to interfere with the trial court’s decision of July 2015 to convict them.

( Source – PTI )


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