MLA walks free as Jyoti murder case falls flat | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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MLA walks free as Jyoti murder case falls flat

Placing Panchkula police under the scanner, the November 2012 case of murder of Hoshiarpur woman Jyoti, 23, fell flat in the court here on Thursday. This led to the acquittal of Ram Kumar Chaudhary, Congress legislator from Doon in Himachal, and all other 11 accused.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 12, 2014 08:32 IST
Bhartesh Singh Thakur

Placing Panchkula police under the scanner, the November 2012 case of murder of Hoshiarpur woman Jyoti, 23, fell flat in the court here on Thursday. This led to the acquittal of Ram Kumar Chaudhary, Congress legislator from Doon in Himachal, and all other 11 accused.

Jyoti was found dead in Sector 21, Panchkula, on November 22, 2012. Though the detailed judgment — still awaited — could present a clearer picture, it’s that police could not build a strong case around mobile call records and locations. The alleged motive was that Chaudhary, a married man, was in a relationship with Chandigarh resident Jyoti, and got her killed as she pressed for marriage.

After additional district and sessions judge Roopam Singh declared the verdict, Chaudhary, who was in jail for over 20 months, thanked God for “justice”. But Jyoti’s father Butti Ram had a poignant response: “Eh sab paise da khed hai (This is all a game of money).”

Those acquitted include Dharampal, Gurmeet, Tilak Raj and Paramjeet, who were alleged to be present on the crime spot. Ram Kumar’s brother Harbhajan Chaudhary, Nirmal, Kamaljeet and Baljeet, who faced trial for harbouring the others; and Pankaj Bhandari, Ashish and Satish Kaushal who faced trial for providing SIM cards on fake IDs.

Unreliable tower location

Police relied a great deal on mobile phone location. The chargesheet said that on the night of Jyoti’s murder, two numbers — 98160-44340, bought by MLA Chaudhary on his ID, and 98164-64060, allegedly bought on a fake ID — were changing locations and reported to be at the crime spot too.

AS Sukhija, counsel for Chaudhary, told HT, “The location of the mobile of Tilak Raj, who as per the police drove a truck over Jyoti, was first at the toll plaza in Chandimandir at 1.44am; in Nada from 1.48 to 1.54am; and then around Chaman Vatika, near Ambala border, at 2am. That is not feasible and contradicts the theory that the truck went from Majri Chowk towards Pinjore to reach Baddi.”

He added, “Jyoti’s father and sister Ishu Rani were planted as witnesses at a later stage. The prosecution couldn’t prove who was using the mobile numbers whose tower location was alleged to be at the crime spot (on November 21 night) when the alleged crime took place.”

Samples failed, footage lost

The defence lawyer also stressed there was no proof that Jyoti was with Chaudhary that night; nor did the hair samples of accused match with those found on Jyoti’s sweater. Semen and blood samples from the seats of the car — in which she was allegedly strangulated and rendered unconscious — did not match those of the accused.

CCTV camera footage of Jindal Nursing Home, Chandigarh, where Chaudhary had allegedly taken Jyoti for an abortion earlier, was found to have been deleted and could not be retraced. Police had also submitted as evidence photographs of Chaudhary at the wedding of Jyoti’s sister.

“The police could not link the various alleged events. The mobile tower location theory was faulty,” said SPS Parmar and Abhishek Singh Rana, counsels for Paramjit and Dharampal, co-accused and cousins of Chaudhary.

From the prosecution side, district attorney APS Parmar said, “We have not received a copy of the judgment. We will study it and forward our comments on filing an appeal.”