Artist Chintan Upadhyay
Artist Chintan Upadhyay
File Photo

A tempo that had been used for disposing of the bodies of artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambani was not produced before the court on Friday for identification. The father of an accused to whom it was given by the court in 2016 upon an application for its custody by him, said before the court that he is not in possession of it, nor aware where it is.

Ramadhar Rajbhar, father of Vijay Rajbhar - one of the accused in the case, appeared before the court and submitted that it had been sold by a family member and he is not aware to whom it is sold.

Additional Sessions Judge SS Oza directed him to produce the vehicle in the court premises by 12 November or face consequences.

On the last date of the trial, the court had directed that the tempo and a Honda City belonging to deceased Bhambani which, as per the prosecution case, was driven off and abandoned after the murder, be produced before it for identification by a witness.

However, only the Honda City was produced on Friday. The court had in 2016 allowed the tempo to be returned to Ramadhar Rajbhar on his application requesting its return by the police. Ramadhar Rajbhar had stated in his plea that the tempo was bought by his son in 2011 and is the only source of livelihood for his entire family. The prosecution had then opposed the plea stating that there is a possibility that the said tempo may be transferred and the prime accused being absconding, if he is apprehended, it will be required to collect evidence.

The court while directing handover of the vehicle in its order, had asked him to execute an indemnity bond of Rs. 5 lakhs on condition that he will not transfer, encumber or create third-party interest over the vehicle and produce it before the court or the police station when required.

In December 2015, a scrap dealer had alerted the police towards two khakhi-coloured cardboard boxes floating in a nullah. These boxes contained two bodies, later identified as that of artist Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani. Their hands were tied behind their backs and their mouths and eyes taped shut. Hema Upadhyay’s estranged husband artist Chintan Upadhyay was arrested in connection with the case. Another five accused are also facing trial, one of them is at large.

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