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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Pooja murder case: 11 months after HC upheld sentence, co-accused still a free bird

On November 13, the Supreme Court agreed with the high court’s order of upholding life imprisonment awarded to Paul by a trial court for strangling his wife Pooja to death and setting the body on fire on July 13, 2012. Renu didn’t appeal against the sentence.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 04, 2019 00:52 IST
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
         

Almost eleven months after Punjab and Haryana high court upheld the life sentence of Vajinder Paul of Sector 20 and his lover Renu Bains of Hoshiarpur in a murder case, the UT police are clueless where the latter is. As per law, Renu should have been in jail.

The January 17, 2019, order of the high court reads: “The order of her suspension of sentence is revoked. She is ordered to surrender before the trial court to undergo her remaining sentence of imprisonment imposed vide an order dated August 29, 2014.” However, neither did Renu surrender nor, what it appears, nor efforts were made to take her in custody.

On November 13, the Supreme Court agreed with the high court’s order of upholding life imprisonment awarded to Paul by a trial court for strangling his wife Pooja to death and setting the body on fire on July 13, 2012. Renu didn’t appeal against the sentence.

Deputy superintendent of police (DSP, jails) Amandeep Singh said, “Currently, she is not lodged in Burail jail. She was here long time ago and got bail.”

The top brass of Chandigarh police are not aware about the location of Renu, who was granted bail even before January 2019 and there is no clarity where she is. A senior police official, requesting anonymity, said, “So far, we haven’t received the orders to re-arrest Renu and once we get them, she will be arrested.”

Criminal lawyer Deepak Sabarwal said, “No appeal is maintainable before Supreme Court unless the convict is in custody. Secondly, convict’s sentence is suspended subject to the satisfaction of the trial court. In case the convict doesn’t surrender after dismissal of the appeal, her bail bonds are to be forfeited and she has to be declared a proclaimed offender and thereafter her properties are to be attached.”

The Punjab and Haryana high court had upheld the sentence in January 2019. Subsequently, Paul filed an appeal before the apex court in October, while Renu did not contest the sentence. “It is a serious lapse on the part of the police and it is an automatic process that is practised after a sentence is upheld. The matter must have been conveyed by the sessions or duty magistrate’s court to the police.”

The SC bench of Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi dismissed Paul’s appeal in the first hearing on October 25, whose proceedings were made available recently. The bench quashed Paul’s argument that the entire case was based on circumstantial evidence and their disclosure statements obtained by the police.

Paul, a manager with a famous Chandigarh eatery, had strangled Pooja, put the body in his car and drove for over three hours, covering a distance of over 100km, to dump the body in Hoshiarpur. He and Renu had poured petrol over the body and set it afire, before dumping it in a ditch. The murder case had made headlines for its brutal cold-bloodedness.

Paul became a suspect in the murder on examination of phone call records by the police. He had confessed to having murdered Pooja and taking her body to Hoshiarpur.

As police struggled to locate the body, Renu on her arrest had disclosed the charred body’s location.