Deposition of two policemen deferred in Sabharwal murder case

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Nagpur, Nov 20 (UNI) A trial court here today deferred the deposition of two policemen, cited by the prosecution as witnesses in the sensational Prof H S Sabharwal murder case, to next month.

District Judge II, B A Sheikh, who is hearing the matter, in his order, said the deposition was being deferred 'in the interests of justice.' ''No doubt the electoral process is in progress in Madhya Pradesh, but the examination of the prosecution witnesses cannot be deferred for that reason,'' he said.

''The Supreme Court has transferred the case to Nagpur for a fair trial,'' Judge Sheikh said. The hearing would continue tomorrow with the examination of three more prosecution witnesses, and then resume on December 1 as per the trial programme to be submitted by the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP), he said.

Earlier, SPP Pratul Shandilya moved before the court an application from Himanshu Sabharwal, son of the late Prof Sabharwal, seeking deferment of the deposition of police constables Dhara Singh Chawda and Sukhnanand on the ground that elections were being held in MP.

''The complainant (Himanshu) apprehends that the witnesses could be under coercion because of the elections. Besides, they have not sought formal permission from their superiors to attend court in Nagpur in response to the summons,'' Mr Shandilya told the court.

Counsels for the defence vehemently opposed the contention, saying the SPP was only trying to delay the trial and was, thus, abusing the process of the court. Advocate Subodh Dharmadhikari said granting a deferment at this stage would send out a wrong signal to the people at large.

Opposing the application, Advocate Surendra Singh contended that mere suspicion of the complainant could not be sufficient ground for an adjournment of the hearing. Advocate Chandrashekhar Jaltare argued that a complainant could only assist the prosecution in a case and could not seek an adjournment. In this case, the complainant was creating an obstruction in the process of law, he said.

Advocate Aniruddha Choubey also opposed the application and prayed that it be rejected as it was without merit.

Prof Sabharwal died after being allegedly assaulted by activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the premises of Madhav College in Ujjain on August 26, 2006. The assault took place after the college authorities cancelled the elections to the students union on the grounds of insufficient quorum.

The case was being heard by a court in Ujjain, but Himanshu moved the Supreme Court with a plea to shift the case to a court outside Madhya Pradesh, saying a fair trial was not possible in that state because it was ruled by the BJP. The apex court ordered the case to be shifted to Nagpur. Accordingly, the trial resumed before Mr Sheikh here on April 17 last.

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