New Delhi, Mar 5: A city court will pronounce its verdict in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case on March 18. Additional Sessions Judge Rajendra Kumar Shastri will read out the judgement on that day. More than nine years after the murder of the Indian Express journalist in her rented east Delhi flat on January 23, 1999, Sharma, the prime accused in the case, is still in judicial custody in Tihar Jail here. Sharma, before his suspension, was the Inspector General, Prison, in Haryana.
On September 27, 2002, Sharma surrendered before a Ambala court after being on the run for more than 45 days. It took police more than three years to make the first arrest in the case -- that of Gurgaon-based restaurant owner Sri Bhagwan. The arrest, on July 23, 2002, would have remained a secret if Bhagwan's family had not filed a habeas corpus. On August 2 that year, police picked up another suspect, Pradeep, a computer engineer. A day later, Sharma had disappeared. On August 17, Satya Prakash, the third suspect, had been held.
According to the charges, on the fateful day two men posing as acquaintances had entered Shivani's flat with a box of sweets.
The two even had tea, according to the police. With just a camera, a chain and a cellular phone missing, police ruled out robbery as the motive. Sri Bhagwan claimed the police planned the murder on Sharma's instructions. The IPS officer allegedly decided to eliminate Shivani because she was piling pressuring him to marry her.