The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred from Lucknow to Dehradun the Madhumita Shukla murder case in which former Uttar Pradesh Minister Amarmani Tripathi, his wife Madhumani and two others are facing trial.
"We are satisfied that a case for transfer of the trial outside Uttar Pradesh is prima facie made out," a Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhan said allowing the transfer petition filed by Madhumita’s sister Nidhi Shukla. The CBI had supported the transfer plea.
The court directed the Dehradun court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis and conclude it in six months. It also asked the accused and the CBI to ensure that no unnecessary adjournments were sought.
However, the Bench turned down the CBI’s plea for transfer of the case to Delhi. Instead, it accepted the suggestion of Mukul Rohtagi, senior counsel for two of the accused, that if at all the trial had to be shifted, the venue should be Dehradun.
The apex court requested the Uttaranchal High Court chief Justice to set up within two weeks a special court for trying the high profile case. It further directed the Lucknow court to transfer the entire records of the case to the Dehradum special court.
The court ordered the Uttar Pradesh authorities to transfer the accused lodged in the Lucknow Jail, including Amarmani Tripathi, to the Central Jail, Dehradun within two weeks.
The court rejected Tripathi’s allegation that the CBI was favouring transfer of his case from Lucknow due to political conflict between the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government and in view of the ensuing assembly elections.
Madhumita, allegedly having illicit relations with Amarmani Tripathi, was killed in 2003 when she started exerting pressure on the former UP Minister to marry her after she became pregnant.
Earlier, he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in April 2004 but the Supreme Court cancelled his bail in September 2005 on the ground that he tried to threaten witnesses.
Nidhi has sought transfer of the case outside Uttar Pradesh on the ground that a free and fair trial was not possible there as prime accused Tripathi, an MLA supporting the ruling Samajwadi Party, enjoyed political clout in the state.
Nidhi's counsel Kilini Jaiswal told the court that the accused had offered her Rs one crore and that she was under constant threat.
The CBI alleged that jail manual had been given a complete go-by and Tripathi was entertaining visitors at non-scheduled hours without any entry having been made in the jail register.
The circumstances “give rise to grave and well-founded apprehension that a free and fair trial of the accused persons is not possible in Uttar Pradesh and gross mis-carriage of justice will result in the event that the trial is continues in the state, the CBI said in its affidavit.”
Describing Amarmani as a “history-sheeter”, the CBI had said that there were as many as 34 criminal cases pending against him and he could intimidate witnesses to derail a free and fair trial.
The state government, which opposed the transfer plea, submitted that if the court wanted to transfer the case, it should send it either to a competent court at any other place in the state.
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