Accused ‘dependent on proceeds of organised crime’ — court order in Soumya Vishwanathan case

New Delhi: The prosecution has duly proved that the accused persons were dependent for their livelihood on the “proceeds of organised crime” — this is what a Delhi court said Wednesday while pronouncing its verdict in the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan. ThePrint has a copy of the order.

Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Ajay Kumar and Baljeet Malik were convicted Wednesday of Vishwanathan’s murder on 30 September 2008. All four, together with the fifth accused, Ajay Shukla, were also convicted under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) after the court found that the prosecution had proved its case beyond “reasonable doubt”. 

Shukla has also been held guilty of the offence of receiving stolen property. The quantum of punishment will be announced on 26 October. 

While the defence had argued that there was no CCTV footage and no signature of the accused on the statement recorded in police custody, the court noted that the prosecution had proved its case through both circumstantial and scientific evidence. 

According to the investigating officer, Bhisham Singh, this is Delhi’s third conviction under MCOCA. For seven months after the murder, the investigating team had made absolutely no headway in what appeared to be a blind murder case that occurred during a robbery bid. 

It was only after Kapoor, Shukla and Malik were identified through CCTV camera footage inside a Sarojini Nagar shop and an ATM in the course of another murder investigation — that of IT executive Jigisha Ghosh — that the police finally cracked Vishwanathan’s case. Kapoor, Shukla and Malik have already been convicted of Ghosh’s murder. 

Visited trauma centre & spot of crime 

“The prosecution has also further duly proved by producing the document of different FIRs and judicial record of those cases as discussed above that at the time of invoking the provision of MCOC Act, accused persons were involved in continuous unlawful activity from the year 2002 till the date of the arrest of the accused persons,” the court observed. 

The court further noted that the prosecution had also proved its case through eyewitness identification of  Kapoor, Shukla, Kumar and Malik, and also corroborated Kapoor’s confessional statement. This established the fact that the accused had murdered Vishwanathan on 30 September 2008 using a country-made pistol between 3.25 am and 3.55 am.

Further, the court also stated that the prosecution had scientifically proved the mode, manner and sequence of the incident. 

The prosecution also relied on the testimony of sub-inspector Balwant Kumar that Kapoor, Shukla, Kumar and Malik visited the spot of the crime where Vishwanathan was shot dead and made enquiries with the PCR staff who had reached the spot. The four then fled from the spot. This is also part of Kapoor’s confession to the police, which is mentioned in the order. 

In his confession, Kapoor mentions how the accused were waiting for a “shikaar” (prey) when they noticed Vishwanathan in her car, and decided to “loot” her. He mentions that he took out a“desi katta” (country-made pistol) and fired at her in order to make her stop. He then says that he, along with his associates, went to the AIIMS trauma centre, where Vishwanathan had been taken. 

Kapoor’s confession also mentions how he and Kumar had once robbed another person near Safdarjung Enclave by pretending to be policemen and threatening the driver, how they killed Ghosh on 18 March 2009, and also how they had robbed an auto driver with Shukla and Malik. 

Also read: ‘Not in favour of death penalty’ — Soumya Vishwanathan’s mother wants convicts to suffer for life