The Bombay High Court on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of journalist Jigna Vora in the 2011 murder of journalist J. Dey.
A Division Bench of Justices B.P. Dharmadhikari and S.K. Shinde was hearing a plea filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the trial court acquitted Ms. Vora and Paulson Palitara.
Dey was shot dead in Powai by motorcycle-borne sharp shooters on June 11, 2011, in a plot hatched by gangster Chhota Rajan.
Investigators had said Ms. Vora had provided important information about Dey — such as his photograph, motorcycle licence plate number, addresses and timing of his commute — to Rajan out of professional rivalry. She was arrested on November 25, 2011.
However, on May 2, 2018, the trial court relied on testimonies of four witnesses and said, “There is nothing in their evidence to suggest that Ms. Vora had instigated Rajan to commit the murder or that she had any other role in this offence.”
It also recorded that Rajan, in his extrajudicial confessions, had not said anywhere that he ordered Dey’s murder because of instigation by Ms. Vora or anybody else. The mobile phones and SIM cards recovered from Ms. Vora and the relevant call detail records did not prove the offence in question, the trial court said, and acquitted her of all charges.
Mr. Palitara, meanwhile, was accused of arranging for global SIM cards from Dubai at the behest of Rajan and giving them to Satish Kalya, an accused in the case, and others. He was alleged to have given ₹2 lakh to Kalya after the incident and introduced Ms. Vora to Rajan.
Special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat, arguing against the trial court’s acquittal, said, “Both of them should have been convicted because some of the evidence against them was accepted by the judge. The search and seizure evidence against Mr. Palitara was accepted by the judge.” He said, “Mr. Palitara received 20 SIM cards of the same series, gave one to Rajan, one to Kalya and kept one with himself. All these SIM cards were used in the offence.”
The HC upheld Ms. Vora’s acquittal and said, “There is no direct evidence showing that [Vora] had any knowledge of the crime. It cannot be held that she was complicit in the conspiracy to kill Dey.” The appeal against Mr. Palitara’s acquittal is pending hearing in the high court.