Mumbai: Kannada actress Maria Susairaj, who alongwith her boyfriend Emile Jerome, was convicted in the case of the gruesome killing of television executive Neeraj Grover, may walk free today.
The court convicted Jerome under section 304 (Part I) for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, but Maria was found guilty only under section 201 of the Indian Penal Code for destruction of evidence.
To the disappointment of the prosecution, neither Jerome nor Maria was held guilty of murder (under section 302 of IPC). The court mainly relied upon Maria`s confession and the circumstantial evidence while giving the final order.
Sessions Court judge MW Chandwani observed that the prosecution could not prove premeditated intention behind the murder. “For section 302 of the IPC to be applied, the prosecution has to prove that Jerome had the intention to kill Neeraj Grover. Accused no.2 [Jerome] left Kochi suddenly with no arms. The assault happened with a kitchen knife,” said.
He observed that according to the confession statement, the murder happened on the spur of the moment when Jerome was provoked and he lost control.
“According to the circumstances that have been brought on record and the confession statement, it does not appear that accused no.2 [Jerome] had the intention to kill Neeraj Grover,” he said.
The quantum of the sentence will be decided after argument on Friday, but there is a possibility that Maria will walk free as the maximum sentence slated for the offence against her is three-year imprisonment, which she has already served during the trial period.
Her lawyer requested the court to grant her bail, yesterday, but the court said it will decide on the matter after the sentence.
Jerome may face life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10 years.
The prosecution has expressed shock over the verdict and said it will appeal against the judgment. “The court held that conspiracy angle could not be proven. Even I am shocked at the verdict. We will certainly go into an appeal after we get a copy of the judgment,” Public Prosecutor RV Kini said.
Grover`s parents too voiced their disappointment over the verdict. His mother, Neelam, told over telephone from Kanpur that Maria, who had called Jerome to her home leading to Grover`s killing, was the main culprit. “Maria should not have been absolved of murder charge,” she said. Grover`s father Amarnath said he was unhappy and that the judgement was disappointing for them.
However, Maria’s lawyer has described her as a victim of circumstances, he said that Maria came to Mumbai on May 1, 2008, just a few days before Grover`s murder, and in such a short span of time she could not have sought favours from him for a role in TV serial as had been alleged by the prosecution.
Emile Mathew and Maria Susairaj were arrested In May 2008 for the brutal murder of TV executive Neeraj Grover.
Matthew killed Grover as he suspected Maria of having a clandestine affair with him. Grover was brutally murdered in Maria`s apartment in Mumbai on May 7.
Apparently, Jerome and Maria allegedly chopped Grover’s body into pieces, packed it into two bags and drove to Manor, near Thane, where they eventually burnt the body.