Soumya Vishwanathan Case: Four of the five men were convicted of murder while the fifth was held guilty of helping the murders
New Delhi: A division bench of the Delhi High Court on Monday suspended the life sentences of four people who were convicted of the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan and granted then bail in the 2008 murder case. The accused had all appealed to the court to suspend their sentences as they had already spent nearly 15 years in jail. Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain suspended the sentence of Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Singh Malik and Ajay Kumar till the pendency of their appeals challenging their conviction and sentence, reported news agency PTI.
Soumya, a TV journalist, was shot dead with a country-made pistol on Nelson Mandela Marg on September 30, 2008. Last year in November, after 15 long years, Delhi's Saket court had sent the four of the five men to life imprisonment after commuting their death sentences. The court commuted the sentence after noting that the act of the four convicts did not fall under the 'rarest of rare' category.
What Happened On Sept 30, 2008?
On the night of September 30, 2008, Soumya Viswanathan was driving home at 3 in the night from her work when she was shot dead in Delhi's Vasant Kunj area when she was shot dead at Nelson Mandela Marg. Police suspected it to be an accident but a breakthrough came when the forensic reports found that her cause of death was a gunshot wound. Another crack came while the cops were investigating another murder case - IT executive Jigisha Ghosh. She was found dead in Faridabad months after Soumya.
With fresh details in hand, the police intensified the investigation and arrested all the five accused -- Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljit Mallick, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Sethi-- between March and April 2009. Then began the trial.
A Delhi court then found Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljit Mallik and Akshay Kumar guilty of the murder of the journalist and Ajay Sethi was held guilty of helping the murderers.
Who Are Her 'Killers'?During the trial, the prosecution said that it was Ravi Kapoor who shot Vishwanathan with a country-made pistol. He was accompanied by Amit Shukla, Baljit Mallik and Akshay Kumar. They were chasing the victim's car to rob her and had fled the spot after shooting her. However, they came back later to check on her.
A police officer said that first the men tried to waylaid Vishwanathan, and when she did not stop her car, Kapoor opened fire at her vehicle. The bullet hit her in the temple leaving her dead on the spot. Her car stopped after ramming into a divider.
"All the accused fled from the spot but 20 minutes later returned to see her condition. When they saw police personnel, they ran away," the officer said. The police had later recovered the murder weapon from their possession and car was seized from Ajay Sethi alias Chacha, the news agency reported.
After the trial, a Delhi court convicted four persons -- Kapoor, Shukla, Malik and Ajay Kumar - of an organised crime syndicate for murder and other offences for the killing of Vishwanathan. The court also convicted fifth accused, Ajay Sethi under section 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) provisions for conspiring to abet, aid or knowingly facilitate organised crime and for receiving the proceeds of organised crime, the report further said.
Sethi was sentenced to three years in prison.