New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Monday issued production warrants to two death row convicts in the 2009 Jigisha Ghosh murder case on trial court reference for confirmation of capital punishment given to them.
A bench of justices Gita Mittal and RK Gauba directed Tihar Jail authorities in New Delhi to produce convicts Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla before it on 15 September.
The order came on submission of Delhi Police that the court could direct production of the convicts to know whether they are going to file an appeal against the trial court's judgement convicting and sentencing them in the case.
On 22 August, while awarding capital punishment to Kapoor and Shukla, Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav had referred the case to high court for confirmation of sentence.
It is mandatory for the trial court to refer each death penalty case to a high court for confirmation of sentence within 30 days of the pronouncement of the verdict.
The trial court had on 14 July held the duo guilty on various counts, including the murder of 28-year-old IT executive Jigisha Ghosh.
The court while sentencing the two to death said the girl was killed in a "cold-blooded, inhuman and cruel manner" and "brutally mauled to death".
It had said the magnitude and brutality exhibited by the convicts made the case 'rarest of rare', warranting capital punishment for Kapoor and Shukla. The third offender Baljeet Malik was given reprieve from the gallows and sent to life imprisonment for his good conduct in jail.
Shukla has orally filed an appeal against the death sentence awarded to him while Malik has filed an appeal through counsel Amit Kumar in the high court challenging the conviction and sentence.
"Let all the appeals filed by the state and the convicts be heard together on September 15," the High Court said.
Ravi Kapoor has not yet challenged trial court judgement.
Malik, in his appeal, has stated that the trial court "failed to appreciate that there have been contradictions and discrepancies in the depositions of the prosecution witnesses (PWs) and therefore conviction and sentence awarded to him is liable to be set aside".
"The trial court has failed to appreciate that prosecution has planted PW-2... as a last seen witness with intent to falsely proving the presence of the appellant in the company of deceased (Jigisha) at about 4.45 AM on March 18, 2009 at SBI ATM at Mahipalpur," the appeal said.
Malik's appeal further said, "The presence of PW-2, who has been falsely shown as a last seen witness, is extremely improbable and doubtful, and, therefore his deposition with regard to being last seen witness cannot be considered credible and probable evidence."
The trial court had also imposed varying fines on the convicts, with Kapoor being slapped with a fine of Rs 1.2 lakh due to his incapacity to pay, while Shukla and Malik were directed to pay Rs 2.8 lakh and Rs 5.8 lakh respectively as pre-sentencing report suggested they were financially stronger.
The trio are also facing trial for the murder of TV journalist Soumya Viswanathan, killed a year before Jigisha.
The court had said leniency cannot be shown to these convicts as there was a rise of gruesome crimes against women which needed to be dealt with in an appropriate sentence.
It had also directed that out of the total fine of Rs 9.8 lakh, Rs six lakh be paid to the parents of the victim, and an adequate compensation amount be decided by the District Legal Service Authority (South).
It had held the three men guilty under several sections of IPC, including 302 (murder), 364 (abducting for murder), 201 (destruction of evidence), 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document).
The additional sessions judge, however, held that the charge of criminal conspiracy (120-B of IPC) could not be proved against them.
The police had filed the charge sheet in the case in June 2009, stating that Jigisha's post-mortem report revealed that she was killed by smothering. The trial in the case began in April 2010.
Recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Jigisha's murder had led to cracking of the murder case of Soumya Vishwanathan, who was a journalist with a news channel.
Soumya was shot dead on 30 September, 2008 while she was returning home in her car from office in the wee hours.
The police had claimed robbery as the motive behind the killings of both Jigisha and Soumya.