J Dey killing verdict: Criminals have desire to promote themselves, said judge

Gangster Chhota Rajan and eight others were awarded life term for killing journalist J Dey in 2011. (Reuters file photo)

"Criminals have a desire to promote themselves," the special MCOCA court in Mumbai observed while awarding life term to gangster Chhota Rajan and eight others for killing journalist J Dey in 2011.

During the sentencing on Wednesday, there were murmurs in the court among the defence advocates on whether Rajan's extra-judicial confession to some media persons over the phone was adequate to prove that Dey's killing was a result of a conspiracy hatched by him along with the rest of the convicts.

In his 599-page judgement, Judge Sameer Adkar explained what might have led Rajan to make the phone calls to some journalists that ultimately led to his conviction.

Judge Adkar said Rajan was apparently irked with Dey's writings on his diminishing clout in the underworld. He, therefore, chose to announce to some media persons that he had got Dey killed, hoping that it would be perceived as a show of his strength, or a warning to others.

"It may be appropriate to answer one question which should arise in the mind of every prudent person - 'Why criminals phone (call) to the media and claim responsibility for the crime committed by them'?" the judge said.

"The answer to this question is not that difficult. Most often, such calls are made to gain attention. Most people like being seen as an authority and getting the attention that makes them feel important," he observed.

Additionally, a criminal or an accused may want to give his side of a story if he feels that he is being misrepresented as he would not like it if he is put in a false light, judge Adkar said in his judgement.

"It could also be because criminals have a desire to promote themselves. They may not be paid for the interview but they also do not have to pay to the journalist either. It is an easy way of generating publicity," he noted.

The judge said a criminal would be fairly confident that he will never be caught afterwards as he feels he is untouchable. "Some may not see themselves as criminals but as misunderstood, hard workers being oppressed by the system."

"J Dey was a reputed journalist. Admittedly, he had written several articles against Rajan and his gang. His murder and subsequent phone calls made by Rajan were with an intention of warning the media to desist from writing and posting/airing any negative news against him in the media," he said in his order.

Nearly seven years after senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was shot dead here, the court yesterday awarded life term to all the nine convicted, including Rajan, observing it was a "cold-blooded" murder.

Judge Adkar, who presided over the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court, however, acquitted former journalist Jigna Vora, charged with instigating Rajan to carry out the killing in June 2011, for lack of evidence.

The judge also acquitted Paulson Joseph, accused of handling the financial operations concerned with the conspiracy.

During the trial, the defence argued that at the time of the incident, the police had been under tremendous pressure to make arrests.

However, ruling out any suspicion of false implication of the convicts, the judge said the Indian law enforcement agencies were well aware that Rajan was not in India (at that time) and not accessible to them.

If the police or the crime branch wanted to win accolades and awards, then to show an instant result, they could have easily implicated any notorious gangster who was operating from Mumbai at that time, he said.

"Therefore, the possibility of false implication of Chhota Rajan is totally ruled out," he said.

In his lengthy order, judge Adkar examined in detail every piece of evidence - the phone calls that Rajan made to four journalists alluding to his role in Dey's killing and even expressing remorse over it.

He also examined the seizures made by the police from other convicts, their mobile locations, call detail records and their personal belongings seized from the spot of the crime, and concluded that Dey's killing was "indeed a well-planned conspiracy".

He cited a previous Supreme Court finding stating that even if some of the convicts were unaware of the final purpose of the conspiracy (as in the above case), the fact that they assisted each other in executing the same, made them liable to invite the same charge under Indian Penal Code section 120 (B) (for criminal conspiracy).

"An important facet of the law of conspiracy is that apart from it being a distinct offence, all conspirators are liable for the acts of each other of the crime or crimes, which have been committed as a result of the conspiracy," the judge said in his order.

Soon after the pronouncement of the order, he also informed the convicts that they had a right to appeal against the verdict before the high court.

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J Dey killing verdict: Criminals have desire to promote themselves, said judge

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