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SC awards life term to Sharda Jain for kidnapping, killing fellow Congress party councillor

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New Delhi Oct 24 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday awarded life sentence to Sharda Jain, a former Congress MCD councillor, and a co-accused for conspiring to abduct and kill her fellow party councillor Atma Ram Gupta over 17 years ago here. Jain, the then councillor from Keshavpuram municipal ward in northwest Delhi, was accused of hatching a conspiracy to murder Gupta, a senior councillor from Trinagar, as she did not like his intimacy with another party corporator Memwati Barwala. Gupta, who had gone with Jain on August 24, 2002, to attend a Congress rally at Ferozshah Kotla ground, was kidnapped and found murdered after five days in a canal in Bulandshar district of Uttar Pradesh. A bench of Justices M M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi upheld the verdicts of the Delhi High Court and the Rohini Trial court finding Jain and co-accused Rajender guilty and asked them to surrender forthwith to serve the life term. The top court, however, acquitted third accused Raj Kumar of the charges framed against him. "Criminal Appeal...filed by Sharda Jain (A-1) is dismissed. The judgment and order of conviction passed against her stands affirmed for the offences under Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (destruction of evidence) ...Vide order..., Jain was granted bail. Accordingly, her bail bonds are cancelled. She shall be taken into custody immediately to serve out the remainder of her sentence," the bench ordered. The court noted that it was Jain who took police officials to the spot where the councillor was murdered. "We do not find any valid ground to disbelieve their testimony, particularly when they are independent, unbiased police officials. There was no reason for them to falsely depose against Sharda Jain, who was also a public servant, being a Councillor of the MCD. Therefore, in our considered opinion, the circumstance of Sharda Jain pointing out the place of the murder of the deceased is proved," it said. It also said the courts below are justified in concluding that the deceased was last seen in the company of Sharda Jain and "that the time gap between the last seen and the time of the death of the deceased is so small so as to make it impossible for the deceased to come in the contact of any other person. Further, since no plausible explanation has been given by Sharda Jain as to how and when she parted company with the deceased". As per the prosecution, Gupta went missing on Augist 24, 2002 after he left his residence to go to the Congress Party's rally along with Jain at the Ferozshah Kotla Grounds. "It is the case of the prosecution that Sharda Jain had developed close relations with the deceased. When he began ignoring her for another woman, she hatched a conspiracy with her brother, Raj Kumar and two other persons, Rajender and Roshan Singh to murder him," the court said. The trial court, in 2006, had convicted Jain, Raj Kumar, Rajender and Roshan Singh and five others in the case for their varied roles. The High Court affirmed the conviction of Sharda Jain, Raj Kumar, Rajender and Roshan Singh and had acquitted five others -- Pushpender, Nirvikar, Shri Pal Singh Raghav, Satender Kumar and Rakesh Kumar. Roshan Singh died in 2010 and the case against him was abated. PTI SJK SA

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