In the case of Chawl V. The State of Maharashtra (Criminal Petition No.1377 OF 2008) , The Bombay High Court turned down a request to relocate Advocate Shahid Azmi’s murder trial only days before the 13th anniversary of his passing. When one accused in the case addressed the High Court in September 2022 with a request to transfer the case to another sessions judge, the High Court had temporarily paused the continuing trial. The case was decided upon by Hon’ble Justice Prakash D. Naik.
FACTS OF THE CASE :
Azmi was well-known for being the face of pro bono legal help and defending several men who, in his opinion, had been wrongly accused of involvement in terrorism. Thirteen years ago, on February 11, 2023, he was shot and killed in his office. He was 33. The trial against his four alleged assailants, Vinod Vichare, Pintu Dhagle, Devendra Jagtap, and Hasmukh Solanki, will now proceed after a six-month hiatus according to the most recent order.
The trial court is biassed against the petitioner, the court ruled, and he would not receive a fair trial based on the information in the record. It said, “No case is made out for transfer of investigation.”
Accused Asserting prejudice, Hasmukh Solanki had petitioned the HC to have the case moved to a different judge. He contested the Principal Judge of the Sessions court’s order from August 10, 2022, which had initially denied his motion.
In September of last year, the HC reserved Solanki’s case for orders; however, it wasn’t until earlier this week that an order was passed and the application was denied. In the case, eleven prosecution witnesses have already been questioned, and about eight more will be.
“There is no evidence that leads me to believe that the learned Judge was biassed against the petitioner. There is no evidence to suggest that the petitioner wouldn’t receive a fair trial by the experienced Judge. Therefore, there is no basis to transfer the case to another Session Judge “Justice Prakash D. Naik made this statement while rejecting the plea submitted by the accused Hasmukh Solanki.
Thus only a few days before the 13th anniversary of Advocate Shahid Azmi’s dying, the Bombay High Court rejected a motion to move the murder trial.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SREYA MARY.