New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Monday granted bail and suspended the life sentence of four men convicted in the 2008 murder case of TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan, noting that they have been behind bars for nearly 14 years.
The division bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Girish Kathpalia said that their life sentence will remain in suspension till this court deals with their appeal against conviction and sentencing in the case.
The Saket court had, in November, sentenced Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik, and Ajay Kumar, convicted to life imprisonment, while the fifth convict, Ajay Sethi, was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Four of them — Ravi, Amit, Baljeet and Ajay — had sought suspension of sentence during the pendency of appeals.
On January 23, the high court had sought Delhi Police’s reply their appeals challenging a trial court’s order holding them guilty and sentencing them to life imprisonment.
Earlier in January, Malik and Shukla had filed appeals through advocate Amit Kumar against the trial court’s October 18, 2023, judgement convicting them and November 25, 2023 sentencing.
On January 23, the court had also asked the authorities to file a reply to the convicts’ interim application seeking suspension of their sentence.
Recently, the high court had also rejected the parole plea of Kapoor.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma had dismissed the plea considering Kapoor’s extensive criminal record, the severity of the offences, and his conduct within the jail premises.
Kapoor had sought parole for four weeks, citing family ties and a knee surgery.
The court, however, said that he failed to provide any supporting documents for the surgery claim and noted his habitual offender status, being involved in about 20 criminal cases from 2002 to 2010.
While convicting the accused, the court had said that the offence does not fall in the category of “rarest of rare” cases, and had refused to grant the request for the death penalty.
Kapoor, Shukla, Kumar, and Malik were convicted under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) provisions and Sethi for receiving stolen property. The police had attributed the motive for her killing to robbery, and had invoked the stringent MCOCA against the accused.
On September 30, 2008, Vishwanathan was shot dead on the Nelson Mandela Marg while returning home from work in her car.
Malik, Kapoor, and Shukla were previously convicted in the 2009 killing of IT executive Jigisha Ghosh. For Ghosh’s murder, the trial court sentenced Kapoor and Shukla to death and awarded a life term to Malik. Subsequently, in the following year, the high court commuted the death sentences of Kapoor and Shukla to life imprisonment while upholding Malik’s life term in the Ghosh murder case.