Telephonic conversations between Shivani Bhatnagar's killers, including convicted IPS officer RK Sharma, even at a time when the police was hunting for them turned out to be the most damning piece of evidence against them.
A Delhi court, which on Thursday put off the pronouncement of sentence against Sharma and three other co-convicts till March 24, said, "It is well established on record that accused RK Sharma, Sri Bhagwan, Satya Prakash and Pradeep Sharma had spoken to each other at all times in flangrante delicto (frequently), which were very crucial.
"And closely around the time, when the conspiracy in question would have been hatched also when Shivani was done to death, even after the incident when the police started hunting for the offender," Additional Sessions Judge Rajender Kumar Shastri said in his 115-page judgement, while convicting the four on March 18.
In the case which depended heavily on circumstantial evidence, the court noted that the telephone records of the accused were crucial in completing the chain of events.
"The circumstances established on the record are interwined intrinsically. The same, if concatenated, form a chain which gives only (one) inference that said accused were conspiring with each other," the court said.
The court also took note of the Haryana-cadre IPS officer's bid to evade arrest even after his name appeared in the media which described him as a suspect in Shivani's murder.
Sharma surrendered in September 2002 only when non-bailable warrants and, later, property attachment proceedings were initiated against him, Shastri said.