Delhi’s Saket court on Tuesday framed murder charges against Aftab Amin Poonawala for killing Shraddha Walkar and causing the disappearance of evidence. Meanwhile, the accused has denied the charges and claimed a trial in the matter.
Shraddha Walkar was allegedly murdered by Aftab in the Mehrauli area on May 18, 2022. Her body parts were thrown into the jungle of the Chhatarpur Pahadi area in the national capital and was arrested in November 2022. Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Manisha Khurana Kakkar framed the charges under Sections 302 and 201 IPC for murder and disappearance of evidence.
The court said that there is sufficient material and prima facie a case is made out against the accused. “Do you plead guilty or claim trial,” the court asked to which Poonawala said, “I don’t plead guilty and will face the trial.”
Thereafter the court listed the matter trial and recording of prosecution evidence on June 1. Advocate Akshay Bhandari had argued that the accused can’t be charged together for the main offence of murder and of the destruction of evidence. These two charges can be framed in alternate. This fact should be considered while framing of charge.
He also argued on the basis of the judgement of the superior court that the accused can’t be sentenced for the main offence and offence of destruction of evidence. The accused can’t be charged for both offences together as it would prejudice his right, the counsel argued.
Advocate Seema Kushwaha had moved an application on behalf of Vikas Walkar, father of Shraddha for releasing the bones of the deceased. He has also sought early exhibit of the bones so that the bones can be released to him to perform the last rites within one year of death. Delhi police will file a reply on the next date.
The owner of the property where the offence was committed had also approached the court seeking de-sealing of the said premises. On April 3, the court took on record of the copy of the judgement filed by the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Prasad and Madhukar Pandey.
SPP Amit Prasad had submitted that there is a clear judgement that the charge under section 201 of IPC can be framed against the person who destroys the evidence to shield the main offender as well against the person who committed the main offence. On the earlier date, the counsel for accused Aftab had argued that the charges of murder and disappearance of evidence can’t be framed jointly. These charges can be framed alternatively.
Advocate Akshay Bhandari had argued that either Aftab can be charged with murder or for making the evidence disappear. The accused cannot be charged for murder and disappearance of evidence under Sections 302 and 201 of IPC together, the counsel argued. It can be framed alternatively. Advocate Bhandari had argued that merely saying that “I (Aftab) am guilty of murder” is not sufficient. They have statements of eyewitnesses only. The Prosecution has to show the manner in which the crime was committed.
SPP Amit Prasad rebutted that the joint charges can be framed under section 201 for disappearing the evidence. He had also submitted that the relied upon a chain of evidence, statement of witnesses, a record of past events and circumstances, forensic evidence, manner of offence etc were submitted before the court.
Delhi Police concluded its arguments on a charge of murder and the disappearance of evidence against the accused.