35.1 C
New Delhi
Thursday, May 30, 2024

Subscribe

Latest Posts

Mumbai murder case: Artist Chintan Upadhyay, 3 others convicted | Mumbai News – Times of India



MUMBAI: A sessions court in Dindoshi on Thursday held artist Chintan Upadhyay guilty of criminal conspiracy along with abetment of the December 2015 murder of his estranged wife Hema Upadhyay, also an artist, while three co-accused were convicted for committing the actual offence of murder and destruction of evidence in the double-murder case of Hema and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani. The sentence is likely to be pronounced on Saturday after hearing arguments on quantum of punishment.
The three co-accused found guilty of murder were tempo driver Vijay Rajbhar and helpers Pradeep Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar who worked with absconding accused, art fabricator Vidyadhar Rajbhar.
The three were produced from Thane central prison at almost 3pm, two hours after the verdict was pronounced by Judge S Y Bhosale in court. Chintan, 50, on bail and present in court, was immediately on pronouncement of judgment sent to judicial custody till October 7.
State to push for death sentence for Chintan
Nearly eight years after the killing of artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani, a sessions court convicted the artist’s estranged husband Chintan Upadhyay and three other coaccused. Apart from Shivkumar Rajbhar, the court in the brief summary of the day’s proceedings said it convicted Vijay and Pradeep Rajbhar and Chintan for “commission of conspiracy of murder of Hema punishable under Section 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) read with 109 (abetment) of The Indian Penal Code”. Reasons for the guilty verdict will be known once the final judgment is out post-sentencing.
The prosecution had relied heavily on a judicial confession given by co-accused Pradeep Rajbhar which implicated Chintan, saying he had hatched the murder conspiracy in Chembur. Chintan, while agreeing he was in Chembur, said the confession was retracted and hence had no evidentiary value. As an alibi, he said he was at a friend’s house, far away from the alleged meeting location. The other key evidence the prosecution relied on was Vidyadhar Rajbhar’s alleged extra-judicial confession to his mother over a phone call that he had committed the murders at Chintan’s behest. Chintan’s lawyer Bharat Manghani requested the judge for time to make submissions on sentencing aspects. The court deferred the judgment to Saturday, when the defence and prosecution will first argue on quantum. Hema and her lawyer Bhambhani were found murdered on December 12, 2015 with their bodies packed into boxes dumped in a ditch in Kandivli. Mumbai police had registered a case of double murder. Chintan, who has been protesting his innocence, was arrested on December 22 that year and granted bail in September 2021 by Supreme Court over the prolonged incarceration.
The fifth accused, Vidyadhar Rajbhar, was never arrested. One co-accused, a minor at the time of the murder, is being tried separately. After all four accused on trial were held guilty, special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade told mediapersons, “I will be seeking maximum punishment of death since one of the victims was a lawyer.” He said, “Considering recent repeated assault on lawyers, this falls into the category of rarest of rare cases and ramifications of assaults on lawyers have to be considered.” The victims’ family members, Hema’s elder brother and Bhambhani’s daughter and two brothers, all broke down. His brother, Gope Bhambhani (79) said, “This was nothing but a cold-blooded well-planned murder. What else should be the punishment, if not death sentence?” Chintan was accompanied to court by his Jaipur-based father and a cousin.
On September 1, the judge concluded the long-drawn trial and reserved it for judgment. The trial in the case began in August 2019. The court had heard at length, after deposition of 54 witnesses, the final submissions of Bagade and defence counsel Raja Thakare, Bharat Manghani, Anil Jadav and others. The court had set the judgment for dictation for about two weeks, noting the considerable “volume of evidence, articles, citations relied on.” Chintan was the main accused who held the alleged meeting in Chembur with another accused and Vidyadhar Rajbhar, the prosecutor had said, stating his motive was matrimonial dispute. Chintan’s defence counsel Raja Thakare argued he was made a scapegoat, with the prosecution intentionally fabricating evidence wherever it could against the artist, including the “unbelievable” ‘confession’ of Vidyadhar to his mother.
Police showed no proof of Hema receiving a call from Vidyadhar’s number, he had argued. The prosecution case was that Vidyadhar had called up Hema, telling her he had evidence against Chintan, following which she went to his fabrication workshop. The prosecutor said the murder motive was a family dispute, but Thakare rubbished it, saying Hema and Chintan were granted divorce by the family court, and Chintan was paying her the maintenance as directed by Bombay HC where an appeal was pending.
Bagade had argued Chintan “principally hatched the conspiracy to kill both Hema and Bhambhani, since he hated them,” and “used his acquaintances to carry out the actual murder”. Bagade had said Chintan had, in order to avoid raising suspicions in Hema’s mind, put into service her art fabricator Vidyadhar and others and she was “lured to visit” the other accused, “who actually assaulted her and Bhambhani in a very calculated, brutal manner”. Also part of evidence were Chintan’s purported diaries. The prosecution quoted lines which included, “She was charging me that I make pornographic images on the wall of my room… She and her lawyer… put criminal case in lower court in Bandra.”
Watch Chintan Upadhyay found guilty of abetting murders of Hema Upadhyay, Haresh Bhambhani: Everything you need to know



Latest Posts

Subscribe

Don't Miss