Mehrauli murder case: Court hears arguments on charges against Aaftab Poonawala

Additional Sessions Judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar was hearing the arguments on the charges against Poonawala.

New Delhi: Shraddha Walkar was last seen alive by a neighbour during a heated exchange with Aaftab Amin Poonawala in the evening of May 18 last year, and immediately thereafter Poonawala “wiped out” her bank balance, the Delhi Police informed a city court on Tuesday.

The court was also told that Poonawala entered into a relationship with another woman within a week of killing Walkar and gifted his new girlfriend a ring which he had earlier given to Walkar, his live-in partner whose body he sawed into pieces before disposing them of in secluded places over several days.

Additional Sessions Judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar was hearing the arguments on the charges against Poonawala.

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Police has charged Poonawala with committing the offences under sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code, and a 6,629-page charge sheet in the case was filed before a magisterial court on January 24.

Special Public Prosecutors (SPP) Amit Prasad and Madhukar Pandey appeared before the court on behalf of Delhi Police, while Advocate Javed Hussain represented Poonawala as the legal aid counsel.

Detailing the chain of events on the day of the alleged murder on May 18 last year, SPP Prasad said Walkar had returned from Guragaon to her residence in Chhatarpur around 2 pm and a neighbour saw her involved in a heated exchange with Poonawala, around 6.30 pm.

“Immediately thereafter at 6.40 and 6.42 pm, the entire amount (Rs 54,000) was wiped out from Walkar’s bank account and transferred into Poonawala’s account,” the SPP said.

He claimed that around the same time, a call on Walkar’s phone went unanswered, but Poonawala called back the person, demonstrating that the phone was in the accused’s possession.

On May 18 itself, Poonawala purchased items like a handsaw with three knives, chopper, and a trash bag, while the double-door refrigerator was bought the next day, he said.

Subsequently, Poonawala chatted with several people on social media accounts of Walkar “to create a facade that she was alive,” Prasad said, adding, after Poonawala’s arrest, the jaw, bones and hair were recovered at the accused’s instance.

Underlining that Poonawala was a “trained chef” and he knew about cutting and preserving meat, the SPP said he also ordered dry ice ( for preserving Walkar’s body) along with disinfectants, deodorisers and agarbattis.

He said within a week of the alleged murder Poonawala entered into a relationship and the ring earlier given to Walkar was gifted to his new girlfriend.

While the woman had joined the investigation, two other witnesses had identified the ring, he said.

The SPP said Poonawala and Walkar had a “sour relationship” and that Walkar suffered physical abuse. Citing the charge sheet, he said Walkar had expressed apprehension on November 23, 2020, that she would be killed and cut into pieces by Poonawala and the exact pattern followed on May 18, 2022.

Prasad also said the evidence revealed that the couple was facing financial problems and had to think twice before spending money on evev regular expenditures.

The court said the arguments on the charges have been heard and a short synopsis was filed by the prosecution.

Noting that the legal aid counsel had sought time to address the arguments, the court posted the matter for further proceedings on March 20.

Earlier on February 21, a magisterial court, after taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed in the case had committed the matter to the sessions court.

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