Murdered installation artist Hema Upadhyay’s family is likely to move the Bombay High Court soon to seek charges being pressed against her estranged husband Chintan Upadhyay. “The family believes that it is supari killing. It is thinking of approaching the Bombay High Court by filing a writ petition,” a source close to the investigation told The Sunday Guardian.
“If the family feels that at the preliminary stage, the investigation is not going on well, they can most certainly approach the Bombay High Court. They will have to file a writ petition of mandamus, and seek transfer of the investigation to another agency,” said senior criminal lawyer Satish Maneshinde.
“This, I believe, is nothing else but media trial. And in the long run, it is not beneficial for anyone. It is my personal opinion that it is too premature to approach the court. If the investigating agency is probing the case right now, some time should be given to it. Doesn’t this amount to pressurising the investigating agency? How will they do an impartial probe if they are being monitored by dual agencies like the court and the media?” asked senior advocate Niteen Pradhan. He is likely to represent Chintan Upadhyay in the Bombay High Court if the petition is filed.
Meanwhile, police have been successful in tracing the tempo used to transport the victims’ bodies and the car of deceased lawyer Haresh Bhambhani. They have also recovered a gold ring from the accused, which is believed to belong to Hema Upadhyay. Due to this progress in the investigation, the police have now added Section 396 of the Indian Penal Code to the FIR. The section pertains to dacoity with murder.
The Mumbai Police’s Kandivali police station team and the Crime Branch are on the lookout for prime accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar, who is still missing. The fabricator used to work for Hema and her husband, among other artists. Vidyadhar owns a workshop in Laljipada in Kandivali. Since he is yet to be traced, the authorities are still clueless about the motive behind the murders of Hema Upadhyay (45) and her 65-year old lawyer Haresh Bhambhani.
Till now, four persons have been arrested in the matter – Shivkumar Shivraj Rajbhar (19), Vijay Ramadhar Rajbhar (40), Pradeep Pannalal Rajbhar (22) and Azad Bhujarat Rajbhar (19). Of them, Shivkumar Rajbhar has told the police that he was present at the workshop at the time Hema Upadhyay and Haresh Bhambhani visited it. An FIR has been registered against them and other accomplices under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
Sources said that financial transaction barely seemed to be the motive behind the murders. “But till prime accused Vidyadhar is nabbed, everyone is clueless about why they murdered the duo,” said an official.
Of the four arrested, Shivkumar Rajbhar has been given police custody till 22 December. On Saturday, the court remanded the other three accused to police custody till 22 December. Police have said they want to ascertain the exact role of Shivkumar in the murder. They also suspect that all the arrested accused together plotted the murder. The police have so far recovered 24 credit/debit cards of Hema Upadhyay and Haresh Bhambhani from co-accused Shivkumar Rajbhar. They are in the process of finding out if any of the arrested or absconding accused misused any of these cards and carried out any transactions.
The police are also probing if any other belongings and valuables on the bodies of the deceased have gone missing. They are on the lookout for the tempo which was used to transport the bodies from the workshop to the nullah. During the questioning of Shivkumar, the police have grilled him about the people who Vidyadhar got in touch with after the murder. Shivkumar and Vidyadhar had together decided to flee Mumbai after they got to know that the police had discovered about the murders.
The police have also told the court that they will need to travel outside of Maharashtra with the accused. They have thus sought a long police custody of the arrested accused. “But they don’t need my custody to seize or conduct search of the vehicle which was allegedly used to transport the bodies,” argued Mayur Vakil before the Borivali court. He represents all the four arrested accused in the matter.
He also asked how the police produced the arrested persons in masks even before proper verification. “The procedure of law has not been followed. In order to call someone an accused, the arrested person has to be identified with the help of eye-witnesses or CCTV footage. In the absence of identification parade, how can you name someone an accused?” he asked.