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Delhi court pulls up CBI in Jha murder case

The court's remarks were on the agency's failure to establish that Jha had demanded Rs 1.5 mn commission from the alleged bribery Soren's JMM had received.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2007 12:54 PM IST

The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for failing to put arguments in proper perspective in the Shashi Nath Jha murder case, in which former minister Shibu Soren was sentenced to life by a lower court last year.

While adjourning a hearing on Soren's appeal challenging the lower court's judgment till July 6, a division bench of Justices RS Sodhi and HR Malhotra advised CBI counsel RM Tiwari to study the matter properly before coming to the court next time.

"Don't give up your case like this. As a public prosecutor (PP) you fill up the gaps in the case. To keep the accused (Soren) behind bars, you come with evidence. There should be proper links between all incidents and links among witnesses," said the bench.

"No more fairy tales on the next date of hearing, we need hard evidence. The agency should put make a proper chain or time format. As a PP you defend your case strongly," the bench said.

The court's remarks were on the agency's failure to establish that Jha, private secretary of Soren, had demanded Rs.1.5 million commission from the alleged bribery Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) had received.

Senior counsel RK Anand appearing for Soren said that the JMM leader had been convicted on hearsay evidence. "There is no foundation of the case," he argued.

The agency had failed to prove that Jha was abducted from Delhi and the alleged abductors had been acquitted by the trial court, Anand said.

Anand told the court that his client had been wrongly convicted for life imprisonment by the subordinate court on the basis of false charges slapped on him by the CBI.

Additional Sessions Judge BR Kedia had convicted Soren on Nov 28, 2006 for conspiring to abduct Jha on May 22, 1994 from Dhaula Kuan in South Delhi and later killing him in a village near Ranchi in Jharkhand.

Jha was murdered as he had demanded a cut from the bribe money which the JMM leaders had received allegedly from the Congress party for supporting the PV Narasimha Rao government in a no-trust motion in the Parliament in 1993.

Soren in a petition had challenged the conviction on the grounds that the court failed to appreciate the fact that DNA tests on the skeleton recovered by the CBI could not establish that it was of Jha.

The 62-year-old tribal leader from Jharkhand, who was forced to quit as coal minister in the Manmohan Singh government in November 2006 after his conviction, was also fined a sum of Rs 5,00,000, which would go to the mother and two daughters of the victim.

Soren was awarded life imprisonment for hatching conspiracy to kidnap Jha and later killing him with the help of others, the court had said. His four accomplices had also been awarded life imprisonment by the court.

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