Hema Upadhyay-Harish Bhambhani murder case: Judge who recorded accused’s confession testifies before court

Published on Aug 05, 2022 11:16 PM IST
Ad hoc sessions judge Prasad Kulkarni, who had as a metropolitan magistrate recorded accused Pradeep Rajbhar’s confessional statement in March 2016, testified before the trial court on Friday in the Hema Upadhyay-Harish Bhambhani murder case
Hema Upadhyay HT Archives
Hema Upadhyay HT Archives
By, Mumbai

Ad hoc sessions judge Prasad Kulkarni, who had as a metropolitan magistrate recorded accused Pradeep Rajbhar’s confessional statement in March 2016, testified before the trial court on Friday in the Hema Upadhyay-Harish Bhambhani murder case. The testimony was recorded via videoconferencing.

During the examination by special public prosecutor Vaibhav Baghade, judge Kurlkarni said that Rajbhar had willingly narrated the sequence of events in Hindi which he transcribed in English. He also said that the confession was read over to the accused before Rajbhar signed it.

Artist Chintan Upadhyay is facing trial for allegedly murdering his wife Hema, also an artist, and her lawyer Bhambhani.

While cross-examining judge Kulkarni, Chintan’s lawyer Bharat Manghani pointed out that there was a discrepancy in Rajbhar’s signatures on the confessional statement.

Manghani said at some places he had signed as “Pradeep Kumar Rajbhar” while at some places it was simply “Pradeep Rajbhar.” He also asked that since Rajbhar understood and spoke Hindi, why his statement was not recorded in Hindi, but in English.

The defence alleged that the magistrate had failed to adopt the prescribed procedure while recording his confessional statement, a crucial piece of evidence, which was subsequently retracted by Rajbhar after the case was committed to Dindoshi sessions court.

In his confessional statement recorded on March 8, 2016, Pradeep had said that he was jobless at the relevant time and had sought help from Chintan in securing some work. He was then called to Mumbai through Vidyadhar Rajbhar, one of Chintan’s workmen, and others.

He said he was instructed to make a phone call to Hema, posing as Chintan’s ex-servant and inform her that he had some videos which she could rely upon in her legal battle against her estranged husband. Pradeep had also narrated the entire double murder plot, purportedly hatched by Chintan through Vidyadhar and others.

Chintan was arrested on December 22, 2015. The Supreme Court on September 17, 2021, granted him bail.


    Charul Shah is senior reporter covering the legal beat for Hindustan Times. She has spent over a decade in the industry covering criminal investigations and judiciary from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.

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