Jhanvi Kukreja
Jhanvi Kukreja

Mumbai: A sessions court while granting bail to 18-year-old Diya Padalkar, accused in the murder of her childhood friend and next-door neighbour Jhanvi Kukreja, that the entire case of the prosecution rests on circumstantial evidence against her and it would not be proper to keep her behind bars solely by way of punishment.

Padalkar was granted the relief last Friday. In the detailed order made available on Tuesday, the court said that the investigation is already completed and the chargesheet is filed. “The applicant is a young girl of 18 years of age, she does not have any offence to his discredit,” Additional Sessions Judge MM Umar said while concluding his order.

The court further said that she resides permanently in the city and there is no possibility of her fleeing from justice. It noted that she has been in custody since 1 January this year and no purpose would be served keeping her behind bars for more period.

Judge Umar stated, whether she had a motive or not to kill her best friend or if she participated with the main accused may be resolved in a full-fledged trial. “Mere presence of the applicant on the place of incident, so also not explaining injury caused to her lips as alleged, is not sufficient circumstance at this juncture to conclude that she has committed that alleged offence,” the order said. It added that it is for the prosecution to prove each and every circumstance against the applicant in a full-fledged trial, so also prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Differentiating her case from that of co-accused Shree Joghankar, whose bail plea the court rejected on the same day that it granted bail to Diya, it said his role appears totally different and that there is material evidence against him.

In her bail plea filed through advocate Ashok Mishra in April, Padalkar had alleged that the Khar police had deliberately planted evidence to link her to the crime. Opposing her plea, the Khar police had argued that her hairband, earrings and footwear were found at the scene of crime and that she had a heavily bleeding lip injury that she failed to explain.

As per the prosecution’s case, Jhanvi, who was romantically involved with Shree, had confronted the duo after seeing Shree get physical with Diya at a new year’s party the trio had been to. A fight had ensued between Jhanvi and the duo in which the accused had violently assaulted her, with her fighting back. It was their banging her head on a staircase railing that had caused her to suffer a skull fracture and resultant death.

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