Romesh Sharma, an alleged frontman of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has been acquitted in the 1999 murder of his fashion-designer girlfriend Kunjum Budhiraja.
A lower court had sentenced the former Congress leader to life imprisonment in February 2008.
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court also acquitted co-accused Tejendir Verdi, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. It upheld the life sentences of four others: Sharma’s nephew Surinder Mishra and hired killers Hemchand, Santram and Ramesh alias Bobby.
According to the prosecution, Sharma, who had an affair with Budhiraja, conspired to eliminate her because she was usurping his assets. The prosecution said he also feared Budhiraja would “expose his illegal activities”.
It was alleged that Sharma planned the murder while lodged in Tihar jail in connection with other cases.
Budhiraja was found stabbed to death at Sharma’s south Delhi farmhouse on March 20, 1999.
“We hold that far from the motive being established as alleged by the prosecution, the reverse stands established: that Romesh Sharma and Kunjum were in love and desired the company of each other,” the court said. “It does not establish that Sharma had got fed up with her.”
Sharma is an accused in 16 cases, mostly for Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) offences.
He has been convicted in one case of tax evasion and another of FERA violation.