A sessions court here on Thursday held artist Chintan Upadhyay guilty of conspiring to kill his estranged wife Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani, and abetting their murder.
Additional sessions judge S Y Bhosale of the Dindoshi court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on Saturday.
Three other accused, namely, Vijay Rajbhar, Pradeep Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar, were convicted of murder under Indian Penal Code section 302 and other relevant offences.
The prosecution said it will seek the maximum punishment of death for all the convicts.
Upadhyay was held guilty under IPC sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) and 109 (abetment). Following the conviction, Chintan Upadhyay, who was out on bail, was sent in judicial custody till Saturday.
Special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade told the media that he will be seeking capital punishment as one of the victims, Haresh Bhambhani, was a lawyer.
Considering the recent cases of assault on lawyers, the offence falls into the category of ‘rarest of rare’, and the ramifications of such incidents on the entire legal system have to be considered, he added.
Bhambhani’s brothers Ramesh and Gopi Bhambhani said they wanted death sentence for the convicts. “The family members have suffered, his wife, two daughters have suffered. Since his death, we have not celebrated Diwali, Holi till today,” they told reporters.
The prosecution examined around 50 witnesses during the trial. Chintan Upadhyay was the “pioneer of the conspiracy” to murder his wife Hema, an installation artist, and her lawyer as Chintan was “driven by hatred towards the duo,” prosecutor Bagade had contended.
A complete chain of circumstances was proved against all the accused, the prosecution had claimed.
Hema Upadhyay and advocate Bhambhani were killed on December 11, 2015, and the bodies were stuffed into cardboard boxes and thrown into a ditch in suburban Kandivali.
Vidyadhar Rajbhar, who is accused of executing the murders, has been absconding.
Chintan Upadhyay was arrested soon after the murders for allegedly conspiring to eliminate his wife. He spent nearly six years in jail before being granted bail by the Supreme Court in September 2021.
The police were unable to crack the double murder and hence implicated him in a false case taking advantage of his and Hema’s matrimonial dispute, Chintan had claimed in this final statement submitted to the court.
Chintan had no reason to eliminate his wife, and police extracted confession from co-accused Pradeep Rajbhar about the conspiracy through coercion, the defence had claimed.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)