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Ponty Chadha murder case: 21 suspects, six judges and a ‘tiring’ trial

The high-profile case of the billionaire Chadha brothers was probed by the Delhi police’s crime branch. Charges of murder and other sections against all the 21 men were framed in June 2015 and it has been more than two years since the police submitted the charge sheet.

delhi Updated: Nov 18, 2017 12:55 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ponty Chadha,Ponty Chadha murder case,Ponty Chadha brother
Businessman Ponty Chadha and his brother were shot outside a farmhouse in Chhattarpur, in New Delhi, on November 17, 2012.(PTI File Photo)

“Who will compensate us for the five years spent in prison if my husband is acquitted some day?”says Anita Singh, wife of Mathura Singh, a murder suspect in the Ponty Chadha murder case.

Manoj Devi, the wife of another suspect, Udai Raj Singh, says, “At this rate, it will take decades to complete the trial. My husband has been jailed for five years already.”

Mathura and Udai are among the 21 men arrested for the murders of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep.

Friday marked the fifth year since the day the two brothers were killed in a sensational shootout outside a farmhouse in south Delhi’s Chhattarpur. The brothers were shot dead on November 17, 2012.

The accused in the case have been languishing in jail without bail and have seen at least six judges, overseeing their ‘tiring’ trial, changing in the last 11 months.

In August 2016, months after the trial began, ASJ (additional session judge) Vimal Kumar Yadav was transferred. Yadav was the first judge in the case. His successor Ajay Jain lasted only a week. The third judge who took over the case was transferred in the same month, within two weeks.

The high-profile case of the billionaire Chadha brothers was probed by the Delhi police’s crime branch. Charges of murder and other sections against all the 21 men were framed in June 2015 and it has been more than two years since the police submitted the chargesheet.

The first three judges were transferred within a month (August 2016). The case since has been handled by three other judges who were appointed in October, November and February (2016-17). The present judge overseeing the trial, ADJ Sunaina Sharma, was appointed in July — her predecessor oversaw the case for only four months.

180 WITNESSES, LESS THAN 40 EXAMINED

The crime branch listed over 180 witnesses to support their case and arrested 21 men to date. However, only around 40 police (prosecution witnesses) have been examined till now. More than a year ago on August 3, 2016, the Delhi High Court, while rejecting the bail of one accused, had directed to “expedite the recording of prosecution evidence and conclude evidence within period of one year and if need arises proceed with case on day to day basis.” Till November 1, less than 10 police witnesses have been examined from the day of the high court order.

Among those arrested in the case are an electrician, a farmhouse guard and a gardener who the police alleged were responsible for the murder. Anita Mehra, suspect Mathura Singh’s wife, said, “There is no permanent judge in this case, which is frustrating. My husband was an electrician, working in the farmhouse at the day of the incident. I know he will be deemed innocent one day, but how long will we have to wait. They have not even got bail in 5 years. Who will compensate us for the time in prison, if court acquits him?”

In their chargesheet, police mentioned Singh’s profession as an electrician. Accused Udai Raj Singh’s wife, Manoj Devi, told HT that the transfers were ‘unusual and frustrating.’ “This is very tiring. My husband has been inside for 5 years. We are also answerable to our kids. What do I tell why their father is in prison?” she asks.

Advocate Manu Sharma, one of the lawyers representing three alleged accused in the case said, “Some innocent men facing trial have been in prison for over five years. They have not even got regular bail. The slow trial and transfer of judges is tiring.”

First Published: Nov 18, 2017 07:14 IST