Shivani murder: HC junks prosecution's evidence

New Delhi: While acquitting former IPS officer R K Sharma and two others in journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday rejected the most crucial piece of evidence of the prosecution - a mobile phone call records of co-accused on the basis of which police had secured their conviction in the trial court.

Nicknamed exhibit PW135/28, the mobile phone call records of co-accused Shri Bhagwan, who too won his acquittal, was termed by the bench of justices B D Ahmed and Manmohan Singh, as an "unrelaible" document "not of high calibre" and "riddled" with too many loopholes, raising a lot of suspicion about its authenticity.

The court, in its 84-page judgement, said "we are of the view that the call detail document is an unreliable document. We are of the view that exhibit PW135/28 is not a direct computer printout of the data available in the computers/ servers of the telephone company. The impression we get is that the data as appearing in the document has been tampered with."

Questioning the manner in which the month, days and year were printed in the document, the court said certain details have been blanked out and others have been introduced.

"The date sequence and the time sequence has been altered. These are clear indicia of tampering/manipulation. On the basis of available evidence, we cannot determine as to which part of the document is authentic and which part isn't," the court said.

The court raised its doubt over the manner in which call records data of the crucial mobile number 9811008825, belonging to Shri Bhagwan, was entered in the month, days and year format in the document.

It was this mobile phone through which Shri Bhagwan was in constant touch on the fateful days with his nephew and Pradeep Sharma and other co-accused including R K Sharma at whose behest he had allegedly asked him to eliminate Shivani.

"An example of the MM/DD/YY format would be 03/10/97, which would translate to March 10th, 1997. The first entry in Ex.PW135/28 is of the date ?3/1/99?. First of all, this is not in the format of MM/DD/YY. Because if it were, then the date would have read as ?03/01/99? as two digits each have been prescribed for the month, day and the year," the court said, pointing out the lacunae in call detail record.

"As per the contents of the said letter, the call details are for the month of January 1999. The obvious conclusion is that 3/1/99 refers to 3rd January, 1999. Implying thereby that the entry 3/1/99 is not in the format (MM/DD/YY) as indicated at the exhibited document," the court said.