Monday, January 30, 2012

INDIAN JUSTICE FOR AN INDIAN MUSLIM - " Court acquits 4. So who killed Adnan Patrawala? - Rebecca Samervel - The Times of India, Mumbai, India


The Times of India

Court acquits 4. So who killed Adnan Patrawala?

Rebecca Samervel, TNN | Jan 31, 2012, 12.34AM IST
MUMBAI: Four-and-a-half years after the sensational murder of Lokhandwala teenager Adnan Patrawala, a sessions court on Monday freed four men accused of the brutal strangulation. Pronouncing the verdict at 1.30pm, judge S A Deshmukh acquitted Sujit Nair, now 33 years of age, Ayush Bhat, 23, Rajiv Dhariya, 28, and Amit Kaushal, 29.

The judgment was pronounced in-camera without the media present. The entire judgment was not read out. Even the families of the accused were not allowed in court when the judgment was pronounced.

Nair's defence lawyer Ashish Chavan, who was present in court during the pronouncement, said, "The court has rubbished the conspiracy theories by the prosecution. With the chain of circumstances not being proved in court, the case has gone in favour of the defence."

The prosecution had alleged that on the night of August 18 and on August 19, Nair, Bhat, Dhariya, Kaushal and a minor had kidnapped Adnan, the son of a Lokhandwala businessman. They drove off with him from Malad's Inorbit mall and allegedly strangled the teenager in Navi Mumbai after a plan to extort Rs 2 crore from his family as ransom went awry and the police got wind of the kidnapping. Patrawala's body was found near his car in the marsh by Palm Beach Road, Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

The entire judgement, along with the reasons for the acquittals, will be available only after the judge releases the document. Special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam was not present in court on Monday.

Though Patrawala's parents were not in court on Monday, they were keenly involved in all aspects of the case. Patrawala's father Aslam said, "We are in deep shock after hearing the judgment. Justice has been denied to us. It was a clear case for conviction, but I don't know what went wrong. After discussing the details with the special public prosecutor, we will decide our further course of action."

Bhat, when asked for his reaction outside the court after his acquittal, told TOI, "I am very relieved. It hasn't sunk in yet."

During the trial, the prosecution examined about 25 witnesses, of whom one turned hostile. The case was largely based on circumstantial evidence, which the prosecution dubbed as "strong". According to the prosecution, two key witnesses were a man who had seen the victim in a drowsy condition in the company of the accused on the night of the kidnapping and another man who heard the conspiracy being hatched.

The defence had argued that there were several lapses in the investigation. Chavan told TOI, "The court rejected the witness's claim that he had heard the accused hatching the plan to kidnap Adnan in a shopping mall. The entire chain of circumstance is required to establish that the evidence is of believable and cogent nature, and this is lacking. The prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt." Chavan further stated that the court raised questions on the prosecution's claims about the recovery of the body.

A fifth accused, who is a minor, is still to stand trial in a juvenile court for the murder that unfolded during a weekend in August 2007. The observations of the sessions court will be taken into consideration then.


3 cops were moved out for 'botch-up'

TNN | Jan 31, 2012, 03.44AM IST
Days after Adnan Patrawala was murdered, three policemen were transferred from the Oshiwara police station, where the teen's parents had filed a case, to the low-profile Local Arms division. It was claimed that the officers were reassigned because of the mishandling of the Patrawala case, though the police officially denied it then.

Adnan's parents were first contacted on phone by their son's kidnappers on the morning of August 19, 2007, immediately after which they approached the Oshiwara police. The police advised the Patrawalas to negotiate with the abductors. In the meanwhile, though, the news of the kidnapping was leaked-reportedly by some policemen-to TV news channels, which promptly put it on air. The abductors, it is believed, panicked at watching the news and killed Adnan in a bid to get rid of the evidence. His body was recovered from a marsh near Palm Beach Road, Nerul, on August 20.

Less than a week later, assistant police inspector Ashok Ratnaparikh, and sub inspectors Vilas More and Jameel Shaikh were transferred out of Oshiwara police station. Ratnaparikh and More were handling the Patrawala case. Yet, then deputy commissioner of police (Zone 9), Vinay Chaube, had insisted that the transfers were carried out on administrative grounds. Simultaneously, then Mumbai police commissioner D N Jadhav had promised that a probe he had set up would find out "if any police officer had irresponsibly leaked information which resulted in Patrawala's killing".

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