The Bombay high court on Thursday rejected the bail application filed by artist Chintan Upadhyay, who was arrested in connection with the murders of his estranged wife — artist Hema Upadhyay — and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani.
Justice SS Jadhav observed that there existed “prima facie, sufficient material to establish that Chintan not only nurtured a grudge against Hema, but had also expressed in his personal diary, the desire to get her eliminated.” She relied upon the prosecution’s submissions, including witnesses’ statements, Chintan’s diary entries, and his call detail records to arrive at this conclusion.
“Chintan rarely stayed at his Chembur flat while divorce proceedings between Hema and he were pending and even after they were complete. However, just around the time of the incident — between December 1 and December 8, 2015 — he stayed at that flat. According to the prosecution, it was there that the murder plot was hatched,” she added.
Though Chintan said he bore no ill will towards Hema, justice Jadhav said it was apparent that their relationship was strained. “Chintan had painted a few nude portraits of Hema, which upset her. She had registered a police complaint against him and was suspicious of his behaviour,” said justice Jadhav. “Thus, Chintan’s conduct before and after the incident does not warrant bail,” she said.
Hema and Bhambhani were killed on December 11, 2015. Their bodies were stuffed in cardboard boxes, which were thrown into a ditch in Kandivli.
The prosecution said Chintan “hired killers” to carry out the murders. They stated that he hired prime accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar — a fabrication artist who he knew — and others to kill Hema in exchange for money.
While Vidyadhar has still not been traced, Chintan was arrested soon after the murders. The police also arrested Vidyadhar’s accomplices — Pradeep Rajbhar, Azaad Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar.
The prosecution said Chintan was in touch with Vidyadhar before the incident. The two met the other accused in Chembur to decide upon how to carry out he murders.
Chintan said he had been made a “scapegoat” and falsely implicated in the case by the other accused, who saw him as a “soft target.” His counsel, advocate Raja Thakare argued that there was no dispute between Chintan and Hema and he had “no reason to get her killed.”
The high court dismissed this argument, saying it was too early to discuss the motive behind the murders.” The court also directed the police to look out for Vidyadhar.