Observing that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence, the Bombay high court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of naval officer Emile Jerome, convicted in the Neeraj Grover murder case.
"There is sufficient circumstantial evidence. At the most we can expedite hearing on the appeals filed by the accused against the conviction and the state government's appeal seeking enhancement of sentence," a division bench of Justices VM Kanade and ML Tahalayani observed.
Rejecting the bail plea, the bench expedited hearing of the appeals and posted it for hearing in February.
The court had on the last hearing remarked that there was enough circumstantial evidence and that the trial court had gone on a wrong footing in the beginning itself by strongly relying on the retracted confession of co-accused Maria Susairaj.
The trial court had acquitted both Jerome and his fiance Susairaj on murder charges after observing that it was not a premeditated murder.
Jerome was convicted for culpable homicide and sentenced to ten years imprisonment and Susairaj was convicted on lesser charge of destruction of evidence and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Since she had spent more time in jail as an undertrial, Susairaj was freed a day after the sentencing.
The high court has admitted appeals filed by Jerome and Susairaj against their conviction and also an appeal by the state government seeking enhancement of their sentences.
Shirish Gupte, counsel for Jerome, blamed Susairaj for the entire conspiracy and murder.
He argued that Jerome came to Mumbai only in the afternoon of May 7, 2008.
"He met his fiancé Susairaj and took her for shopping. Jerome does not know what happened in her flat the previous night," Gupte said.
Also, the prosecution does not have evidence to show that Grover was alive when Jerome reached Mumbai, the defence counsel argued saying even time of Grover's death has still not been established.
Rajesh More, additional public prosecutor argued that Grover's murder was premeditated. Susairaj felt "cheated" by Grover who failed to get her a role in television serials, claims prosecution.
According to police, Grover was stabbed to death by Jerome after the victim got into a feud with the naval officer on May 7, 2008. The alleged murder took place at the suburban residence of Susairaj. The two accused had allegedly cut the body into several pieces before disposing it of at Manor Jungles on the outskirts of the city.