The Delhi High Court on Wednesday acquitted former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer R.K. Sharma, who was given life imprisonment for the killing of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar in 1999. More than three years after the murder of Shivani Bhatnagar, Delhi police tracked down the alleged suspects after which the chase for R K Sharma, prime accused in the case started, which ended on September 27, 2002.
Following is the chronology of events in the case:
January 23, 1999 : Shivani Bhatnagar, principal correspondent of Indian Express, murdered in her flat in East Delhi, when she was with her infant son.
July 23, 2002 : Delhi police pick up Sri Bhagwan, son of a former Haryana police officer, who had worked under R K Sharma.
July 30, 2002 : Delhi police formally arrest Sri Bhagwan, after he reportedly spills the beans on Sharma.
August 01, 2002 : Sharma applies for ten days leave.
August 03, 2002 : Delhi police team raids Sharma’s residence at Panchkula in Haryana. However, Sharma leaves for undisclosed destination. Pradeep Sharma, another conspirator arrested by Police.
August 4, 2002 : Delhi police questions Sharma’s daughter at his sector six residence in Panchkula.She denies having any knowledge about his whereabouts.
August 6, 2002 : Sharma files an application for anticipatory bail before a Panchkula court. His interim bail plea rejected.
August 7, 2002 : Delhi police releases Sharma’s picture and declare a reward of Rs 50,000 for his arrest. A Delhi court also issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
August 8, 2002 : Sharma’s wife Madhu Sharma, flanked by her two daughters-Pragati and Komal-holds a press conference at their residence in Panchkula claiming her husband as “totally innocent” and alleged that “some influential person” was keen to frame him and also demanded a CBI probe to unravel the truth.
August 08, 2002 : Union Minister of state I D Swami reject CBI probe. Police raided at a place in Una in Himachal Pradesh after he was cited having dinner.
August 09, 2002 : Delhi police continued unsuccessful raids at Sharma’s residence in Panchkula.
August 10, 2002 : Panchkula court reject bail plea of Sharma on the ground of territorial jurisdiction.
August 11, 2002 : Madhu Sharma seeks appointment with the Prime Minister to apprise him about efforts allegedly being made by somebody to “frame her husband.”
August 12, 2002 : Delhi police gets forensic report on the handwriting and fingerprints of one of the accused -Pradeep Sharma.
August 12, 2002 : Sharma runs out of leave but remains elusive.
August 12, 2002 : Sharma files a bail plea in a Delhi court.
August 13, 2002 : Sharma’s bail plea rejected by Delhi court Madhu sharma in Panchkula alleges that women of her family and acquaintances were being harassed by Delhi police.
August 14, 2002 : Sharma removed from the post of IG (Prisons) for failing to join duty after expiry of his leave.
August 14, 2002 : Sri Bhagwan, one of the accused sent to 14 days of judicial custody by a Delhi court. Delhi Police kept a vigil outside the house of Sharma at Panchkula.
August 15, 2002 : Madhu Sharma alleges Union communication minister Pramod Mahajan involved in Shivani’s murder, Mahajan refutes the allegations and says that he shared a purely professional relationship with Shivani.
August 16, 2002 : Delhi police gives a clean chit to Pramod Mahajan. The latter threatens to sue Madhu Sharma for defamation.
August 17, 2002 : Pradeep Sharma says police are forcing him to name Ravi Kant Sharma as the key conspirator and discloses that Satya Parkash is in police custody. Police later confirms the latter’s arrest from Faridabad.
August 18, 2002 : Another suspect Ved Sharma picked up from Gurgaon. Pragati seeks meeting with the Prime Minister.
August 18, 2002 : Delhi police questions Sharma’s relatives at his Panchkula residence.
August 19, 2002 : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) turns down petition on harassment of Sharma.
August 20, 2002 : Madhu Sharma demands Pramod Mahajan be subjected to lie-detector test.
August 22, 2002 : Delhi police question Madhu Sharma and her daughters.
August 23, 2002 : Sharma suspended from service. Pramod Mahajan says he is prepared for lie-detector and DNA test, if investigating agency asks for the same.
August 24, 2002 : Number of residents of Shahbad in Haryana took out a procession at Sharma’s native place demanding CBI probe.
August 25, 2002 : Protestors from native place of Sharma, Shahbad, demonstrate in front of Delhi police headquarter demanding CBI probe.
August 28, 2002 : Delhi court extends police remand of Satya Parkash for three more days.
September 9, 2002 : Delhi High Court rejects Sharma’s bail plea. The Delhi court allows Delhi police to initiate process of declaring Sharma as Proclaimed offender (PO) and to attach his property.
September 10, 2002 : Delhi police initiate proceedings to declare Sharma as PO by pasting court notice at his residence and other prominent places at Panchkula. Delhi police asks external affairs ministry to revoke the passport of Sharma.
September 15, 2002 : Madhu Sharma alleges Delhi police preventing her husband from surrendering before court.
September 17, 2002 : Delhi police began attaching Sharma’s properties estimated to be worth crores of rupees in various places across the country.
September 18, 2002 : Delhi police seize Sharma’s some moveable assets from his residence in Panchkula, including car and T V.
September 19, 2002 : Delhi police attach Sharma’s Mussoorie flat.
September 27, 2002 : Sharma surrenders in a court in Ambala which sent him to judicial custody till October five.
October 25, 2002 : Police file chargesheet in the case, charging all the accused under various Section of the IPC including 302 (murder), 120 B (conspiracy), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence).
March 3, 2003 : Court frames charges against all accused.
March 20, 2003 : Trial begins in the case as accused plead not guilty and claim trial.
March 26, 2003 : Sharma released on parole to attend his daughter’s marriage.
May 14, 2003 : Police claim to have found some “classified” documents from Shivani’s flat, corroborating the prosecution’s claim that he used to pass on secret papers to her.
July 8, 2003 : Shivani’s sister Sevanti tells court that the scribe had confided about her plans to expose Sharma.
January 22, 2004 : Shivani’s husband Rakesh Bhatnagar admits that he knew about the friendship of Sharma with his wife.
July 13, 2004 : Sharma gets parole for last rites of his mother.
January 23, 2006 : Trial of the case shifted to a Fast Track Court.
February 10, 2006 : Sharma released on parole for attending his second daughter’s wedding.
February 2, 2007 : Prosecution wraps up its evidence.
February 13, 2007 : Sharma starts recording his statement; claims Shivani knew many politicians.
August 14, 2007 : Final arguments in the case begin.
March 5, 2008 : Court declares final arguments closed and fixes March 18 as the date for announcing verdict
March 18, 2008 : Court convicts RK Sharma along with three other accused for conspiracy to kill Shivani. Ved Prakash Sharma, Ved alias Kalu acquitted.
March 20, 2008 : Arguments on quantum of sentence completed. Prosecution seeks death penalty for RK Sharma, Pradeep. Court reserves order on sentence for March 24.
March 24 2008 : IPS officer RK Sharma and 3 others get life term. Court imposes fine of Rs 20,000 on Sharma and Rs 10,000 each on other three convicts.
Dec 21, 2010: The Delhi high court reserves judgment on appeals of R.K. Sharma, and his co-convicts against their conviction in Shivani’s murder case.
Oct 12, 2011: The Delhi high court acquits R.K. Sharma, Sri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash. Pradeep Sharma’s sentence is upheld, saying trial court has rightly convicted him of murder.