Rejecting claims that it was a politically foisted case, the Delhi court which sentenced JMM MP Shibu Soren to life imprisonment has said circumstantial evidence established that he "masterminded" the killing of his private secretary Shashi Nath Jha 12 years ago and the conspiracy behind it.
"I have no hesitation to safely conclude that accused Soren had masterminded the conspiracy and by hatching the conspiracy with his party members...For commission of abduction for murder of Jha...," Additional Sessions Judge BR Kedia said in his 191-page judgement.
The court said the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the motive of the crime that the victim was having the knowledege of the bribe received by him to vote for the then minority PV Narasimha Rao government and was demanding a share from the booty.
"It is clearly reflected that Soren has not given any explanation as to how it is a political case and who had falsely dragged him in this case nor he has examined any defence witness in support of his claim of being falsely implicated in the case.
"On the contrary from the perusal of the case record, it is clearly established that this case was registered because of missing of Jha, who was working as PA/PS to him," the court said adding that victim's brother Amar Nath Jha, who was a complainant and witness in the case had no political enmity with him.
Soren's conduct after the offence to offer money to victim's brother and asking him not to mention any specific name as suspect in the complaint as well as utterance of statement to Priyamvada Devi, mother of Jha that he himself was CBI, indicate that the former Coal Minister mastermined the murder.
The victim's brother in his deposition had also said that Soren's two sons -- Durga and Hemant -- had threatened him not to name anybody in the police complaint which was later lodged at the Parliament Street Police Station.
"...Conduct on the part of the Soren indicate his mastermind in hatching said conspiracy with other aco-accused," the court held.
The court took into account the apprehension expressed by the victim to his mother and the Chartered Accountant of Soren that he may be eliminated.
While holding that CBI succeded in establishing the case of murder against Soren and his acccomplices, the court relied on the statement of an eye witness who decsribed the manner in which Jha was eliminated after having a party in Ranchi.
The witness, who had fallen asleep after consuming liqueur awoke after hearing Jha's cry when he was being attacked by accused Nand Kishore Mehta, who was hitting him on his head with an iron rod.
The court also gave credence to the testimony of another witness, a neighbour of Nand Kishore Mehta, who saw the victim with the accused on the fateful night.
The court held that non-recovery of the victim's body did not impair the prosecution's case as it was not necessary for conviction in the murder case.
"Even in the absence of recovery of dead body, the fact of death of deceased can be established like any other fact," the court held by referring to an apex court judgenment which said "there are number of possibilities where a dead body could be disposed of without trace".
Since DNA experts were neither examined by the CBI nor by Soren or any other accused, the court relied on the post-mortem report and superimposition test of recovered skull with the photograph of the victims suggesting that it could be of Jha.
Though the court was not sure whether the exhumed skeleton was of Jha, the testimony of the eye witness established that the recovered clothes, bracelet and a sticker of branded jeans were worn by the victim at the time of offence.