Kirti Vyas Murder Case: 'Burden Of Explaining Events Rests On Accused, Not Prosecution', Says Mumbai Court

Kirti Vyas Murder Case: 'Burden Of Explaining Events Rests On Accused, Not Prosecution', Says Mumbai Court

The court handed out life sentences to two salon employees – Siddhesh Tamhankar, 33, and Khushi Sahjwani, 48 – based on the fact that Vyas was last seen in their car on March 16, 2018. Vyas was to terminate Tamhankar’s services that day.

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2024, 02:59 AM IST
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Kirti Vyas Murder Case: 'Burden Of Explaining Events Rests On Accused, Not Prosecution', Says Mumbai Court |

Mumbai: The ‘last seen’ theory was the basis of conviction and sentencing in the case of murder of Kirti Vyas, 28, the finance manager at Bblunt salon. The court handed out life sentences to two salon employees – Siddhesh Tamhankar, 33, and Khushi Sahjwani, 48 – based on the fact that Vyas was last seen in their car on March 16, 2018. Vyas was to terminate Tamhankar’s services that day.

Tamhankar and Sahjwani waited outside Vyas’s house at around 8.50am when she left to board the 9.11am local train from Grant Road for Andheri. They offered to drop her and this was the last time Vyas was seen alive. Her body was untraceable despite hectic search operations at Wadala nullah and Mahul creek.

The sessions judge MG Deshpande said that “the burden of explaining the circumstances of transactions that took place inside the running car rests with both accused, not the prosecution”. The court said that the missing body is not detrimental to the case.

The court said that the “investigating agency was not bound to discover the dead body when the facts relating to it were completely in the special knowledge of both accused”. The court added that “prosecution cannot be blamed for not having corpus delicti (dead body) nor the evidence led by them to that regard can extend any benefit to both accused”.

In the judgement running into 114 pages, the court noted that Tamhankar, after the murder, moved Vyas’s body in the boot of the car, where it remained till he and Sahjwani were at work. Tamhankar, who was Vyas’s assistant, sent messages to her number about wanting to leave early on the pretext of not feeling well.

Tamhankar left the office at 4pm and so did Sahjwani with the ruse of attending an event. The court noted that the two were later seen together, with Sahjwani driving the car at Wadala Mahul toll plaza; she was speeding and didn’t pay the toll.

Later, when Vyas’s family started searching for her, Tamhankar accompanied them, but feared being exposed when footage from the housing society was obtained and given to the police station. It was only then that he revealed having met Vyas on the day she went missing.

He first informed Satyajeet Thakur, the director of Bblunt, that he and Sahjwani met Vyas and gave her lift to the office but she asked to be dropped at the railway station as she had another meeting. Thakur directed Tamhankar to inform the police along with Sahjwani.

This was the crucial circumstantial evidence against Tamhankar and Sahjwani. “He likely feared that if the CCTV footage was thoroughly examined, it would reveal their presence, prompting him to disclose this fact pre-emptively to avoid further scrutiny. Therefore, his initial disclosure was motivated by a desire to prevent further investigation rather than a genuine desire to reveal the truth,” the court noted.

The court noted that everyone who was involved in the effort to locate Vyas was shocked as Tamhankar was actively involved in the search and did not mention the crucial fact of giving her a lift. At the police station, when the accused were questioned, they revealed that they did not disclose this to hide their own affair.

The two claimed to have dropped Vyas near a mall, but when the police took them to the spot they showed a different one. The police later reviewed CCTV footage of the route through which the car had passed and also the spot where they possibly dropped Vyas. When checked, the police noted that the car had not stopped at all but was in a high speed lane.

The court also noted that “the last call received by Vyas on March 16, 2018 was at 8.51, lasting only for a second, after which her phone was switched off, showing a tower location at Jijamata Nagar, Worli. The tower locations of both accused were also in the same vicinity. This fact is further corroborated by CCTV footage of the car. Notably, after 9.30am on March 16, 2018, Vyas’s phone was never switched on.

Tamhankar was asked about their visit to Mahul, which he claimed was for privacy and physical intimacy. However, the police noted that even at that time there were four calls between both of them. Tamhankar’s explanation was that he got down from the car to attend nature’s call and later to buy some chips and food, but couldn’t show the shop where he bought them from.

The court held that “all evidence conclusively establishes that on the specified day, at the mentioned time, both accused committed murder inside the car by strangling Vyas, using means known only to them. The presence of blood stains (from the mat of the car – mat below the seat next to drive and mat in the dicky) and the DNA analysis report confirm that Vyas was not alive but had been killed.”

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