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  Pravin Mahajan gets life imprisonment
Mumbai, December 18: A sessions court on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to Pravin Mahajan for the murder of his elder brother and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan. 
The prosecution, however, pushed for the maximum penalty – death on the grounds that Pravin has a very “cold attitude” towards the entire episode. 

Pravin was pronounced guilty by Additional Sessions Judge S P Daware on Monday. The court rejected the defence’s theory of “accidental firing leading to accidental death” as opposed to homicidal death. 

Although Pravin, in his deposition, had spoken of a “scuffle” between him and 
The Judge did not believe in the defence theory while taking into consideration the conduct of the accused.

To begin with, the Judge observed, Pravin had come to Pramod’s house early in the morning armed with a gun, when he (Pramod) was vulnerable. The judge also reasoned that if it was indeed a case of accidental firing, Pravin should have at least taken his brother, who was “like a father to him”, to hospital. 

The Judge observed that if it was indeed accidental firing, blood from Pramod’s body should have splattered on Pravin. Since no blood marks were found, the theory was not tenable, the Judge said. 

But the Judge also disbelieved the motive that the prosecution had ascribed to the murder — greed of money. 

Witness Rekha Mahajan (Pramod’s wife) first introduced the motive of “greed of money” when she was being cross-examined almost a year after the murder. The judge decided that the motive, as proposed by the prosecution, was “an afterthought”. 

The threatening SMS sent by Pravin to Pramod on April 15, which said, “Ab yachana nahi ran hoga, jeevan vijay ke saath, ya phir maran hoga — Pravin Venkatesh Mahajan (there won’t be any prayer or war, I will be either victorious or dead)” has been held as the motive for the crime. 

The defence theory that the SMS was fabricated was also not considered. Since, the practical demonstration was conducted by defence witness, P Balakrishnan, on a Motorola handset similar to that of Pramod, but not Pramod’s phone, the judge decided that the SMS was not doctored. Also, he decided that Balakrishnan was “not an expert” as per law as he doesn’t have the authorised qualifications.

The Judge believed in most of the prosecution evidence, including the statements of eyewitness Rekha Mahajan and their servant Mahesh Wankhede. The dying declaration given by Pramod to Munde while they were on their way to Hinduja Hospital was also believed as Munde, according to the judge, “is a respectable citizen”. 

Pramod was shot at by Pravin at the former’s Worli residence on April 22 last year. The BJP leader died at Hinduja hospital a few days later. 

Lapses committed by the police, according to Judge S P Daware: 

* When Pravin surrendered himself before the Worli police, his gun was handled by the duty officer with his bare hand. The fingerprints of Pravin could not be detected by the fingerprint expert because of this error. 

* Pravin had reportedly “confessed” his crime before the police, which was recorded in the first information report (FIR). The judge observed that if his statement admitting guilt was recorded before the magistrate, it would have been admissible in court. A police statement, on the other hand, is not admissible. 

* Three chargesheets were filed regarding various aspects introduced by the prime witnesses—Rekha Mahajan and Gopinath Munde. A shadow of doubt was cast over the motive because of the time-lapse of almost one year. This could have been avoided had the police asked relevant questions while recording statement, the Judge said.
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Pramod Mahajan (1949-2006)

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