J.Dey murder: Bombay HC upholds woman scribe's acquittal (Lead)

Mumbai, Aug 27 (IANS) The Bombay High Court on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of former journalist Jigna Vora, the sole woman accused in the sensational 2011 murder of fellow scribe Jyotirmoy Dey.

A division bench of Justice B. P. Dharmadhikari and Justice S. K. Shinde, upheld the acquittal by the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Special Court in May this year, ruling that "the prosecution had failed to prove her involvement" in the killing.

Deported gangster Rajendra S. Nikhalje, alias Chhota Rajan, and eight others were found guilty in the same case in May 2018 and have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Besides Rajan, the others convicted are Rohit Joseph, Sachin Gaikwad, Deepak Sisodia, Mangesh Agvane, Anil Waghmode, Nilesh Shedge, Arun Doke, and Abhijit Shinde.

Vora and another accused Paulson Joseph were acquitted in the case by the MCOCA Special Court.

Giving its ruling in an appeal filed by the prosecution against MCOCA Special Judge Sameer Adkar's verdict acquitting Vora, the High Court said: "There is no direct evidence showing that the accused (Vora) had any knowledge of the crime. It cannot be held that the accused was complicit in the conspiracy to kill Dey."

Dey, 56, then the Editor-Investigations of Mumbai English eveninger 'Mid-Day', was shot dead near house in Powai on the morning of June 11, 2011, by two motorcycle-borne gunmen, sending shockwaves in media, police and political circles.

Vora, 43 (now), a crime reporter and then Deputy Bureau Chief of The Asian Age, was arrested on November 25, 2011, and released on bail after spending around eight months in jail.

Among other things, she was charged for allegedly instigating Chhota Rajan to carry out the hit on Dey owing to some professional rivalry, providing Dey's picture and whereabouts, crucial information like his phone numbers, address, motorcycle licence-plate number, etc.

The case was initially investigated by the Powai police, later the Mumbai Crime Branch, and subsequently, the CBI took over all cases involving Chhota Rajan after he was deported from Indonesia in October 2015.

There were total 11 accused named in the case including Vora, and Vinod Asrani, alias Vinod Chembur - named as the financer and one of the conspirators in the hit - but he died due to natural causes in April 2015.

In June 2015, the Special MCOCA Court had framed charges against the remaining 10 accused and in 2016, Chhota Rajan was also charge-sheeted for his involvement in the Dey killing.

Dey had authored two books - "Khallas: An A to Z Guide to The Underworld", and "Zero Dial: The Dangerous World of Informers".

At the time of his killing he was finalizing his third book - "Chindi: Rags To Riches" - in which he had reportedly portrayed Chhota Rajan as a "chindi" (petty) criminal instead of the 'Don' he was usually referred to with dread by all.

This had apparently made Chhota Rajan livid with rage and he had ordered Dey's killing.

--IANS

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