The Supreme Court, today, issued a notice in the Special Leave Petition filed by the mother of the TV Journalist Soumya Viswanathan challenging the release and the suspension of the sentence of the four convicts who have been incarcerated since 2008 for the murder of the journalist.

The Petition assailed the order of the Delhi High Court passed on February 12, 2024, suspending the sentence of Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Singh Malik and Ajay Kumar and granting them bail till the pendency of their appeals challenging their conviction and sentence.

The Bench of Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal ordered, “Let the Notice be issued to the Respondents. Returnable after four weeks.”

Advocate for the Petitioner submitted, “The Accused(s) have been released on bail, the Accused(s) are members of organised crime and they have been committing the crime.”

The Counsel also informed the Court that they have been serving a sentence for the last 14 years and reiterated the excerpt from the order of the Delhi High Court allowing the application, “5. Keeping in view the aforesaid facts and the fact that the present appeal is of 2024 and there are old appeals pending before us and the hearing of present appeal shall take substantial time, we hereby suspend the sentence of the appellant during the pendency of the appeal. Consequently, the appellant be released on bail, if not required in any other case, on his furnishing a bail bond of Rs.10,000/- with one surety of like amount to the satisfaction of the learned trial Court concerned.”

Counsel also submitted “They will be let loose for a long time. We do not know when the matter will be heard by the High Court…they are part of organised crime…they will again commit the crime”.

Justice Trivedi said, “We permit you to make request to the High Court for an early hearing in the matter.”

Justice Trivedi also asked, “How she was murdered?”

Counsel for the Petitioner said, “She was coming back from work, and for no reason, she was shot, for theft. She was an innocent victim who had nothing to do. This was happening with another girl Jigisha…this will continue. They will be let loose for a long time this way...This matter will never be taken up in the High Court.”

While granting relief to the convicts, the High Court noted that they had been in custody for 14 years. The Delhi High Court had on January 23 asked the Delhi Police to respond to the appeals filed by the four convicts. A special court had on November 26, 2023, awarded two life terms to Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik and Ajay Kumar under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 3(1)(i) of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

Kapoor, Shukla and Malik were also convicted in the 2009 Jigisha Ghosh murder case and are still in jail. Vishwanathan, who worked with a leading English news channel, was shot dead in the early hours of September 30, 2008, on Nelson Mandela Marg in south Delhi while she was returning home from work in her car.

Previously, the Delhi High Court had dismissed the petition by Ravi Kapoor for parole for four weeks to maintain family bonds and undergo knee surgery.

Cause Title: Madhavi Viswanathan v. The State of NCT of Delhi (Diary no. 13692/2024)