51 witnesses turned hostile
The menace of witnesses turning hostile continued to plague the criminal justice system with as many as 51 of the 209 witnesses turning hostile in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case.
But the bulky documentary evidence in the form of telephone records, entry registers to Shivani’s residence, photo albums and hotel registers helped the court nail the accused.
The biggest jolt to the prosecution was given by Suresh Kumar Kukreja as he was the only witness whose testimony was recorded before a magistrate. Kukreja’s telephone records put things in order for the police. Police found that about 98 per cent calls made from his cellphone between January 18, 1999 and January 23, 1999 were to Bhagwan’s telephone. R K Sharma was using the phone while he was staying in Pune.
About half the hostile witnesses were those who were supposed to prove Sri Bhagwan’s involvement in the crime by their testimony regarding his ownership of the car used by assailants to reach Shivani’s house on the fateful day.
The documentary evidence that clinched the case in the prosecution’s favour was the delivery slip that was signed by Bhagwan when he sold the vehicle to another person. The slip proved to be a crucial piece of evidence as the person who purchased the vehicle from Bhagwan had refused to identify him in the court.