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Prosecution ploy lands Shivani trial in limbo

Seven years after journalist Shivani Bhatnagar was murdered in her home, the trial in the case?pending in a fast track court?has come to a halt, reports Naziya Alvi.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2006 02:41 IST

Seven years after journalist Shivani Bhatnagar was murdered in her home, the trial in the case—pending in a fast track court—has come to a halt. The reason: the prosecution does not want to furnish copies of certain observations made by Rakesh Bhatnagar, husband of the deceased, to the prime accused and suspended IPS officer RK Sharma.

The prosecution has said the observations are not a formal statement recorded by the investigating officer but only an informal gist of the information given by Bhatnagar after his wife's death.

The decision on the issue is pending with the Supreme Court. The trial court and the high court had gone with the defence argument and directed the prosecution to supply the observations to the defence counsels.

Sharma had sought the copies on the ground that it contained certain incriminating material against several others allegedly involved in the murder.

Sharma said the police was withholding evidence to "protect someone".
On November 15, the court of additional sessions judge Rajendra Kumar finished recording the prosecution evidence. The case, which was being heard on day-to-day basis, has come to a halt since then as the Supreme Court's order on the issue is awaited.

The special prosecutor in the case, SK Saxena, had earlier argued that the accused was barred by law from accessing any statement that could have been the basis of the investigating officer's observation.

He also said the defence was deploying delaying tactics when the trial was at its fag end.

Bhatnagar had been examined and cross-examined for five months by various counsels for the accused three years ago.

Saxena said, as per the CrPC, the statements which are a part of the case diary are only given to the witnesses to refresh their memory before their examination or to the judge to corroborate witnesses.

Ravi Kant Sharma, along with five others—Pradeep Sharma, Sri Bhagwan, Satya Prakash, Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved alias Kalu—are facing trial in the murder.

The journalist was found murdered at her east Delhi apartment on January 23, 1999.
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First Published: Nov 24, 2006 02:41 IST