The threat message Pravin Mahajan allegedly sent his brother Pramod a few days before he shot him could have been modified by a third person.
Defence witness P Harikrishnan on Friday demonstrated in court how an SMS could be altered or modified with the help of basic computing tools.
His demonstration is a significant blow to the prosecution’s case. The message, which threatened violence if Pramod continued to refuse Pravin money, had offered the only evidence of motive for the killing.
Now, the case will depend wholly on the testimony of the witnesses — Pramod’s wife Rekha and a servant were present at the time of the shooting, while Pramod’s brother-in-law Gopinath Munde was at his home a few floors below the Worli residence.
The confession Pravin allegedly gave the local police moments after the shooting is inadmissible under the law. The alleged killer has also since declared that the weapon he surrendered to the police at the same time belonged to him, but denies that he used it to shoot Pramod.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, however, remained optimistic. “The development will not affect our case,” he told HT.
The prosecution first latched on to the SMS as proof of motive nearly a year after the April 2006 shooting, after Pramod’s brother-in-law and fellow party leader Gopinath Munde — a prosecution witness — mentioned the message in court.
During cross-examination, Munde had admitted that he had failed to mention the message to the police before because he had been in shock over the shooting.