2015 Hema Upadhyay murder: Artist Chintan Upadhyay gets life imprisonment | Mumbai News

MUMBAI: A sessions court in Mumbai on Tuesday sentenced artist Chintan Upadhyay to life imprisonment days after he was held guilty of criminal conspiracy along with abetment of the December 2015 murder of his estranged wife Hema Upadhyay.

Chintan Upadhyay found guilty in Hema Upadhyay, Haresh Bhambhani Case | Full details of the case

He was also fined Rs 25,000. Along with Chintan, three co-accused — tempo driver Vijay Rajbhar and helpers Pradeep Rajbhar and Shivkumar Rajbhar — were also sentenced to life imprisonment.

The trio who worked with absconding accused, art fabricator Vidyadhar Rajbhar, were convicted of committing the actual offence of murder and destruction of evidence in the double-murder case of Hema and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani.

The prosecution has sough the maximum sentence of death against the four convicts.

Hema and her lawyer Bhambani were found murdered on December 12, 2015 with their bodies packed into boxes dumped in a ditch in Kandivli.
Chintan was arrested on December 22 that year and granted bail in September 2021 by the Supreme Court over the prolonged incarceration.
He has now been taken into custody.

‘Barbaric’ act

On Saturday, calling the act “barbaric”, special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade submitted that while every murder is heinous, double murders even more so and that the relation between accused and victim should be considered at the time of punishment.
He also submitted that the accused were acquainted with Hema and were trusted.
“They were not strangers. The court must consider the state in which the bodies were found and the injuries. It shows that it was a grave offense. Hema was a world renowned artist. The crime falls in the rarest of rare cases, cold blooded and calculated murder,” Bagade said.
Pointing to Bhambani’s murder, he submitted that advocates do their duty, representing clients and nobody as the right to eliminate them.
“Hence the crimes are on a higher gravity. Such a tendency of crime has to be curbed. Considering the attack on an advocate, which is a vital pillar of the society, a message has to be given that if pillars are shaken, it will be taken seriously,” he said.
Bagade said that the material evidence shows that the crime was a barbaric act.
“The court must consider the attitude and submission made by accused number 4 (Chintan). It shows determination of the crime concerned,” Bagade said.
Bagade further said that it was not the case that the other three accused were compelled by the conspirator to commit the crime.
“They voluntarily did it. The conscience of the society was shaken. The double murders were talk of the town. The society was shocked,” Bagade said.
Denying the possibility of reformation, he submitted, “Professional criminals there is no scope of reform.”

No ‘arrogance’

However, Chintan’s lawyer Raja Thakare submitted that the fact that he submitted that his conscience is clear and that he is innocent, cannot be considered to be arrogance.
“Is there something uncommon about the crime which renders sentencing to life inadequate? Are the circumstances of the crime such that there is no alternative but death even after considering mitigating circumstances?
Philosophy of death penalty has undergone change,” Thakare submitted.
He also argued that the prosecution has not made a whisper that there is no alternative but giving the death penalty or on the mitigating circumstances.
“Not a single circumstance related to the offender was placed before court,” he said.
Thakare also submitted that quality of evidence also has to be considered including reliance on circumstantial evidence.
He also said that the death of the lawyer cannot be attributed to Chintan.
Thakare also submitted that Chintan was found guilty for the abetment and not found to have participated in the murder.
“It is not established that it is rare or that other alternatives are not available,” he said.

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