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On October 18, 2023, the Delhi Court convicted four people out of the five, in the murder case of Soumya Vishwanathan, a 25-year-old TV journalist who was found dead in her car on Nelson Mandela Marg in South Delhi in 2008. Ms. Vishwanathan worked with India Today, which was earlier called Headlines Today.
On the night of September 30, 2008, as she was returning home from work, she was attacked by five robbers who later killed her through a headshot. Ravindra Kumar Pandey, Additional Sessions Judge, today declared that the four accused, Ravi Kapoor, Baljit Mallick, Amit Shukla, and Akshay Kumar, are guilty of murder and loot, and the fifth one, Ajay Sethi, was guilty of helping the others during the incident under provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
Who were the accused?
The five men, Ravi Kapoor, Baljit Mallick, Amit Shukla, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Sethi, who were involved in Ms. Vishwanathan’s murder have been found to be a part of an organized criminal syndicate. They were identified when the police were investigating Jigisha Bose’s murder case that happened in 2009, seven months after Soumya’s murder. The verdict regarding Bose’s murder was announced in 2016 when the court gave a judgment stating that the accused were not capable of reform and thus, were a threat to society.
Jigisha’s mother also informed that the criminals were smiling as they stood in court, with no signs of remorse or hesitation on their faces. It was like killing somebody was not a big deal for them and they did it more out of ‘habit’. One of the accused was even seen wearing Jigisha’s chain as they went out shopping using the deceased’s card.
Police officer Bhisham Singh, who was transferred from Sarita Vihar, took over the case as investigating officer and informed the media that the motive for killing Saumya was to rob her. However, they got further charged when Soumya could not see them as she had her music on. One of the accused remarked, “Dekh teri baat toh koi bhi ladki nahi sunti hai (See, no girl listens to you)” to Ravi Kapoor which made them chase her for 1-2 kilometers.
What was the breakthrough episode that helped crack the case?
The breakthrough episode that helped in solving Soumya Vishwanathan’s murder case was through another investigation of the murder of Jigisha Bose, a 28-year-old IT executive who was found dead in Faridabad, months after Ms. Vishwanathan’s death. Jigisha Bose was abducted while she was returning home after being dropped off by her office car following a late-night shift. Malik, Shukla, and Kapoor have been responsible for Ms. Bose’s death and both Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla were given a death sentence in 2016 by the city court. The third perpetrator, Baljeet Malik was given life imprisonment.
After the court’s judgment in 2016, a sense of relief washed over Jigisha’s mother who said “This verdict is not just for Jigisha but for every woman. I won’t get my Jigisha back, but I don’t ever want any mother to go through what I have.” Along these lines, after today’s hearing, Madhavi vishwananthan, Soumya’s mother also stated that the verdict would act as a “deterrent” for further actions like these, “otherwise, they would have been emboldened further… At least one section of the gang will be out of it.” She also continued to say that life imprisonment would serve the accused better as the death penalty would be too easy for what they have done.
Soumya Vishwanathan’s murder case: The timeline
- On June 22, 2009, the Delhi police filed a 620-page chargesheet in which the accused were listed under Sections 302 (murder) and 34 (Common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- On October 8, 2009, another supplementary charge sheet was filed by the police against accused Ravi Kapoor under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
- On May 9, 2011, all the people accused of the crime were charged by the court for allegedly running an “organized crime syndicate” under MCOCA. MCOCA is a special law that prevents and controls all criminal activity that is organized by crime syndicates or gangs.
- Malik, Shukla, and Kapoor were convicted in 2016 with respect to Jigisha Bose’s murder case.
- In 2023, the court gave the final verdict on Soumya Vishwanathan’s murder case.