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Mattoo case round II: HC to begin hearing today

The court will start hearing into the case acting on a CBI petition against a 1999 verdict, writes Archis Mohan.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2006 12:40 IST

Protests by citizen groups, activists and media may get Priyadarshini Mattoo justice, 10 years after her death. From Thursday, the Delhi High Court will start hearings into case on the CBI’s review petition challenging the sessions' court judgement of 1999. The sessions court had acquitted main accused Santosh Kumar Singh in the case.

Priyadarshini, a 23-year-old Delhi University law student was allegedly raped and murdered by Santosh at her South Delhi apartment on January 23, 1996. The case investigation had been transferred to the CBI as Santosh was the son of JP Singh, then a serving Delhi Police officer. Priyadarshini was strangled to death in her South Delhi apartment with 19 injuries on her person. Santosh was Mattoo's senior at the Faculty of Law and had been stalking her for sometime.

The CBI filed a review petition in 2000 with the Delhi High Court. It took six years to be listed, that too after nationwide protests following the acquittal of the main accused in the Jessica Lall case. The case was listed a couple of months back. In a 449-page judgment delivered on December 3, 1999, the Additional Sessions Judge GP Thareja had acquitted Santosh.

In its petition, the CBI said the sessions' court failed to appreciate the evidence presented to it. The evidence, mostly circumstantial in cluded the fact Priyadarshini had even lodged a complaint of Santosh stalking her with the Maurice Nagar police station. She met the then Commissioner of Police and even got security. On the day of the murder, a neighbour had seen Santosh outside Priyadarshini's home.

The sessions court judgement had been damning for the CBI. "Though I know he is the man who committed the crime, I acquit him, giving him the benefit of the doubt," the judge said. The court had accused CBI of keeping away evidence collected by it, fabricating documentary evidence on and had even cast doubts on the DNA report. The CBI later instituted an internal inquiry and challenged the trial court's competence regarding DNA tests.

The case so far

The hearings will be held on the review petition filed by the CBI challenging the sessions' court judgement of 1999, which had acquitted the main accused.

The CBI review petition filed in 2000 with the Delhi High Court took six years to be listed. It fol lowed nationwide public pressure after the acquittal of the main accused in the Jessica Lall case.

The CBI petition says the ses sions' court failed to appreciate evidence, including the fact.

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