The Delhi High Court on Monday suspended the life sentence awarded by the trial court last year to four men convicted for the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan.
A division bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Girish Kathpalia was hearing applications moved by the four convicts seeking suspension of their sentence awarded by the trial court in November last year.
In its judgement, the court said that the sentence would remain suspended until the pendency of their appeal. It also noted that they have been behind bars for 14 years.
Speaking to reporters, the counsel of the convicts said that the court's primary "consideration was the period of custody that they have undergone to date", news agency ANI reported.
"There were four appeals today, and their applications for suspension of sentence were listed. There is a probability that Ajay Kumar may come out. But the other three people can avail of the regular furlough and payroll facility as per the jail manual. The sentences of Ravi Kapoor, Amit Sukla, Baljeet Malik, and Ajay Kumar have been suspended today. Yes, the three were convicted in Jagisha's murder case also. They are undergoing this life sentence. In that case, there is no date. The appeal will be heard in due course."
In November 2023, the trial court had sentenced the four men to life imprisonment. The fifth convict was sentenced to three years in jail. While rejecting the request for the death penalty, the trial court had held the offence committed by the accused does not fall in the “rarest of rare” category.
Vishwanathan, who was working with India Today, was found dead in her car on South Delhi’s Nelson Mandela Marg on September 30, 2008.
Back in October 2023, the Delhi court convicted Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Ajay Kumar, Baljeet Malik, and Ajay Sethi for murder and common intention, nearly 15 years after the crime took place. The four received life sentences, while the fifth convict, Ajay Sethi, was sentenced to the period already served in jail.