A city court convicted S S Rathi, the suspended assistant commissioner
of Delhi Police and nine other policemen for killing two innocent
businessmen in 10-year-old sensational Connaught Place shootout case.
“All the charges against you (read accused) stand proved,” said Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar, reading out the operative part of the verdict in the infamous shootout case in a jam-packed court room.
The court held the accused guilty of the heinous offence of murder and other charges like causing disappearance of evidence of offence provided under Section 201 of the IPC and giving false evidence, punishment for that is provided under Section 193 of the penal statute. According to Section 302 of the IPC which deals with punishment for murder, whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable for fine.
The sessions court would pronounce the quantum of punishment to Rathi, inspector Anil Kumar and eight other convicted cops on October 24. The other policemen convicted in the case are SI Ashok Rana, head constables Shiv Kumar, Tejpal Singh, Mahavir Singh, constables Sumer Singh, Subhash Chand, Sunil Kumar and Kothari Ram. The court also issued notice to FSL expert Roop Singh, seeking explanation as to why criminal prosecution should not be initiated against him.
Roop Singh was charged with similar charges of fabrication of ballistic report in Jessica Lall murder case. The Delhi High Court had passed strictures against him for such charges in the case.
Two businessmen, Pradeep Goyal and Jagjit Singh, were killed in a broad day light encounter in a busy thoroughfare in the heart of the Capital on March 31, 1997. It had caused widespread public outcry resulting in the transfer of then Commissioner of Police Nikhil Kumar, who is now Congress MP from Aurangabad in Bihar.
The probe in the case was conducted by the CBI, which had accused the 10 policemen of “indiscriminately” firing at the victims without any provocation at Connaught Place. The agency had alleged that the callous action of policemen was aimed to get promotion through such killings branding them gangsters.
The fake encounter was covered up, the CBI had said. The policemen had planted a pistol and a few cartridges inside the car to corroborate their claim that the first fire came from the businessmen but the forensic report belied that any shot was fired from the weapon.
Rathi, who remained in jail for over three years along with the other accused after their arrest in July, 1997, had also been charged with giving false information to higher police officials to claim his innocence in the act.
The accused police personnel had said they fired on the victims in “self defence” as the first shot had come from inside the car which had injured a constable. They had further contended that it was a case of “mistaken identity” as the deceased were wrongly identified as UP-based gangster Yaseen and his associate.
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