The murder trial of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pramod Mahajan, allegedly killed at point-blank range by brother Pravin, began here Wednesday with the prosecution examining the police officer who had registered the first information report (FIR).
In a crime that stunned the nation, Mahajan was allegedly shot by his younger brother Pravin in his Worli home on April 22 last year after a heated argument. The argument is said to have ended with Pravin pulling out his licensed revolver and pumping three bullets into his brother, who died on May 3.
While the grievously wounded BJP leader was rushed to the hospital, Pravin, who has since been lodged at the high-security Arthur Road jail and whose bail applications have been repeatedly rejected, took a taxi to the Worli police station and surrendered.
And it is at this point that the trial began at the sessions court.
"The trials are being conducted by sessions judge Srihari Davare and there will be three hearings per week," said Ujjwal Nikam, one of the two special public prosecutors. The other is high-profile criminal lawyer Nitin Pradhan.
Nikam disclosed that the prosecution had lined up 58 witnesses, who have already submitted relevant documents as part of evidence. These include Mahajan's widow Rekha, son Rahul and brother-in-law and senior Maharashtra BJP leader Gopinath Munde.
The servant Mahesh Wankhede, who was present at Mahajan's residence in Worli when the murder took place, is also listed as a witness along with Pravin's wife Sarangi.
As far as the defence strategy goes, Harshad Ponda, who is defending Pravin, is likely to challenge the video recording taken at the police station during the surrender.He is of the view that the VCD only shows visuals of Pravin surrendering to the police at Worli police station and has no record of Pravin's confessional statement. This is likely to make the going tough for the prosecution.
The defence would also argue that so far no motive on the part of Pravin has come to light.