Hema Upadhyay Murder Case: Bombay HC Dismisses Bail Plea Of Key Accused Chintan Upadhyaya

Hema Upadhyay Murder Case: Bombay HC Dismisses Bail Plea Of Key Accused Chintan Upadhyaya

The HC, on October 25, admitted Upadhyay’s appeal challenging his conviction and sentencing by the sessions court; yet the plea was dismissed on grounds of proof of his involvement in the murder.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, December 12, 2023, 11:13 AM IST
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Chintan Upadhyay | File Photo

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed the bail plea of artist Chintan Upadhyay who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for abetting and conspiring to kill his estranged wife Hema Upadhyay in December 2015,

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri Godse dismissed the plea observing that prima facie there was sufficient ground to show his involvement in the murder. The country will pass a reasoned order later.

HC admitted Chintan Upadhyay's appeal

The HC, on October 25, admitted Upadhyay’s appeal challenging his conviction and sentencing by the sessions court. Upadhyay has approached the high court through advocate Bharat Manghani challenging his conviction contending that the sessions court erred in its findings while finding him guilty. Pending hearing in his appeal, he had sought bail.

The ghastly 2015 murder case

Hema and her lawyer Harish Bhambani were allegedly smothered to death by Vidhyadhar Rajbhar on December 11, 2015, with the help of other accused persons. He killed the duo allegedly at Upadhyay’s behest. The next day, a rubbish collector discovered their bodies stuffed in cardboard boxes in a nullah in Kandivali.

Sessions judge, on October 7, found Upadhyay guilty of abetting and conspiring to kill Hema and sentenced him to life in prison observing that the murder was “brutal”, but it cannot be termed as “rarest of rare” which warrants a “death penalty only”. The judge found three others – Vijay Rajbhar, Pradip Rajbhar and Shiv Kumar Rajbhar, who hail from the same village – guilty of murdering Hema and her lawyer and Harish Bhambhani and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Hema’s family had also approached the HC seeking permission to intervene in the matter and oppose Upadhyay’s bail plea. The HC had allowed the family to intervene.

Upadhyay's conviction

Special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade opposed the bail plea contending that there was enough evidence against Upadhyay based on which the sessions court had convicted him.

Upadhyay’s appeal contends that the sessions judge erred in accepting the retracted and uncorroborated confession of a co-accused, Pradip, as voluntary, admissible and having been corroborated.

The judgment of the trial court lacks proper and cogent evidence and reasoning to convict him, the appeal argues. It wrongly relied on a retracted confession of co-accused Pradeep Rajbhar, to hold it as genuine. The appeal also questions the inference drawn by the sessions court that since Rajbhars had no motive to murder Hema, they acted at Upadhyay’s behest. It is not permissible in law to draw such an inference, said Manghani.

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