The Bombay High Court has directed the Mumbai Crime branch to provide copies of witnesses’ statements to artist Chintan Upadhyay, arrested in connection with the 2016 killings of his estranged artist wife and her lawyer.
The HC observed that an accused was entitled to copies of statements of witnesses which were being relied upon by the prosecution.
“The accused person would be entitled under law to have copies of statements of all witnesses which are being relied upon by the prosecution. The prosecution cannot withhold the same,” Justice Sadhana Jadhav said while hearing a bail petition filed by Upadhyay last Friday.
Upadhyay had claimed that he was not given copies of statements which, according to him, are vital in proving his innocence in the case.
The HC posted the bail plea for hearing on February 24 and directed the prosecuting agency (crime branch) to provide copies of statements to the accused.
Upadhyay’s wife Hema, an installation artist, and her lawyer Haresh Bhambani were killed on December 11, 2016 and their bodies were disposed of in cardboard boxes which were found in a drain in suburban Kandivali.
The high court also permitted the intervening application filed by Bhambhani’s family members opposing Upadhyay’s bail application.
This is the second bail application filed by Upadhyay in the high court after his arrest in the case.
His first plea was rejected by the same judge in February last after observing that a prima facie case was made out against him.
Upadhyay submitted his second bail plea last December after a supplementary charge sheet was filed against him.
As per his application, the supplementary charge sheet has certain fresh admissions in his favour.
In its February 2017 order rejecting Upadhyay’s first bail application, the high court had said that there was more than sufficient material to show that he nurtured a grudge against his former wife and had expressed the same in his diary and had also said that he wanted to eliminate her.
Upadhyay, a noted painter, was arrested soon after the bodies were found.
Vidyadhar Rajbhar, the prime accused in the case, has been absconding since 2016.
Apart from Upadhyay, other accused arrested in the case include Pradeep Rajbhar, Azaad Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar.
The trio was in the business of manufacturing and selling fibre glass, which was used by Upadhyaya and his wife for their installations.