J Dey murder case: Journalist Jigna Vora gets bail

Published: Saturday, Jul 28, 2012, 8:00 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agencies
Jigna Vora got her first breather in the eight months since her arrest for her alleged involvement in the murder of veteran journalist Jyotirmoy Dey on Friday when the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court granted her bail.

Ms. Vora was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch on November 25, 2011, for her alleged role in the murder. She was charged under provisions of the stringent MCOCA.

She was granted bail on a surety of Rs. 1 lakh and two personal bonds. The court also laid down the condition that she would not speak to the media. It directed her to be present at the police station twice a week.

The court took into consideration the protracted wait for forensic reports of her cell phone records and laptop. Citing lack of adequate technical infrastructure, the forensic science laboratory had told the court earlier that it was not able to get any “supporting data.” Speaking of the grounds for bail, a Crime Branch official told The Hindu, “The court said it could not wait longer for forensic reports. It also took into account the fact that she is the mother of a child. Moreover, she is not a gangster or hardened criminal.”

The Crime Branch had submitted six cell phones to FSL to retrieve deleted messages and call data for any possible proof related to the murder. It later submitted CDs to the court containing the retrieved data, material on a memory card and other files. “We argued that there was no material to support allegations of personal animosity or that she was in touch with gangsters abroad. Yes, we admitted that two phone calls were made, but they were in connection with news reports, which were published. We said that her every action cannot be treated as part of a conspiracy,” a defence lawyer told The Hindu.

While granting bail, the judge referred to the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory’s failure to retrieve details of calls allegedly made by the journalist to underworld don Chhota Rajan, who is reported to have ordered Dey’s killing. The laboratory had stated in its report submitted to the court on July 23 that data from Vora’s six cellphone handsets could not be retrieved, as it does not have the necessary equipment to do so. The police had claimed that Vora had sent text messages to her friends, acquaintances and Dey during the course of her duty. They were banking on call details to build a watertight case against her.

The MCOCA court, however, laid down several conditions while granting the bail. Vora has to submit her passport to the police and must produce herself before the office of the crime branch, which is investigating Dey’s murder, twice a month.

Mr Dey, the Investigations Editor of MiD DAY‘s, was gunned down by four bike-borne assailants in broad daylight near his residence in Powai on June 11, 2011. Ms Vora, then working as a deputy bureau chief with a Mumbai daily, was the 11th arrested accused in the case.

Her name, however, did not figure in the chargesheet filed against 12 persons in December last year. She, instead, was named in a 1,400 page supplementary charge sheet filed in February this year.

Ms Vora has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence, besides stringent provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and the Arms Act.

The murder was plotted and executed allegedly at the behest of underworld don Chhota Rajan. According to police, Ms Vora had allegedly provided Mr Dey’s mobile number and his exact location to Rajan, who has also been named in the charge sheet.

Vora will be released from the Byculla jail, where she is lodged, on Monday