Trial court judgment set aside by the Delhi High Court
`Law requires the prosecution to prove its case beyond the shadow of doubt'Babloo Srivastava had allegedly hired Virender Pant and Manjit Dixit to carry out the murder
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday acquitted underworld don Babloo Srivastava and co-accused businessman Nitin Shah in the Lalit Kumar Suneja murder case.
The Delhi police had charged the two with entering into a conspiracy to kill Suneja, an employee of Nitin Shah, after Shah and Suneja had failed to settle a financial dispute between them.
Suneja was murdered at Shakarpur in East Delhi in August 1992.
Additional Sessions Judge Rajender Kumar of the Karkardooma courts here had last year sentenced the two to life imprisonment, holding them guilty of conspiracy and hiring two contract killers -- Virender Pant and Manish Dixit -- to eliminate Suneja.
Setting aside the trial court judgment, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice R. S. Sodhi and Justice P. K. Bhasin said: "It appears that the trial court has based its judgment only on the assumption that the appellants, Srivastava and Shah, are guilty, and this, with great respect to the trial judge, is not the correct perspective of law.
"The law requires the prosecution to prove its case beyond the shadow of doubt,'' the Bench added.
In the charge sheet, the police had said that accused Shah had requested his friend Babloo Srivastava to eliminate Suneja offering to bear the costs likely to be incurred on carrying out the act.
Babloo Srivastava had then allegedly hired Virender Pant and Manjit Dixit to carry out the job.
"In the totality of the circumstances, we find that there is nothing on record to show that any of the appellants had anything to do with the murder of Lalit Suneja,'' the judgment said.
The investigating agency got a clue to the murder when they had came across a complaint registered by Suneja at the Nizamuddin police station here accusing Shah of threatening him.
He had also alleged that Babloo Srivastava had threatened him over telephone asking him to settle the dispute with Shah.
Initially the police had kept Babloo Srivastava and Shah under Column 2 in the charge sheet meant for accused not sent up for trial.
However, they had later charge sheeted them under Section 302 (murder) and 120 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code on a direction by the trial court.