After J Dey’s murder, Chhota Rajan’s calls to four journalists proved crucial evidence
After getting senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, 56, shot dead on June 11, 2011, gangster Chhota Rajan, to assert his dominance in the Mumbai underworld, called up four journalists and claimed the responsibility for the drive-by hit. These calls were the main evidence against him and his henchmen, resulting in their life imprisonment.
The special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court, constituted to conduct trial of all cases against Rajan, sentenced him and eight others to life imprisonment, and acquitted two others, including journalist Jigna Vora.
Another accused died last year owing to multiple ailments.
The court noted that the extrajudicial confession (made out of the court and not part of the investigation) by Rajan is “cogent, trustworthy and reliable”. “The extrajudicial confessions have passed the test of credibility, can be accepted, and can be the basis of a conviction,” observed the court.
The court went on to point out that when Rajan made the phone calls to journalists in Mumbai, he was not under the control of any investigating authority in India, and that he was a “free man”.
“As he was located hundreds of miles away from India and Mumbai, he had no fear of the Indian law enforcement agencies. He was not in a position of weakness… He did not feel threatened in any manner by the Indian law enforcement agencies or any other agency,” said judge Sameer Adkar.
The court contended that Rajan had called the journalists and “told them the truth”.
“In this background, if the news regarding the phone call made to these witnesses was really fake, nothing prevented him from immediately picking up his phone and calling the media, denying his involvement in the murder of J Dey.”
But Rajan did not do so, which made the court accept the extrajudicial confession as a key piece of evidence.
“Why do criminals phone the media and claim responsibility for the crime committed by them? Most people like being seen as an authority and getting the attention that make them feel important. Additionally, a criminal or an accused may want to give his side of a story if he feels that he is being misrepresented as he would not like it if he is put in a false light,” observed the court.
The court stated that it could be because criminals have a desire to promote themselves. They may not be paid for the interview, but they also do not have to pay to the journalist either, said Adkar.
“It is an easy way of generating publicity,” noted the court.
Apart from the calls, the court also relied on the confessions of his henchmen Deepak Sisodia and Paulson Joseph recorded under section of 18 of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. The court said, “It is considered as substantive evidence not only against the men who confessed but also against others.”
The court also considered material evidence in the form of a revolver, cartridges and others seized from accused Rohit Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kaliya, who shot J Dey, and mobile phones and SIM cards recovered from other accused.