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HC upholds life sentence of ex-Navy officer for murdering girlfriend

The Bombay High Court upheld the conviction and life sentence awarded to a former naval officer for killing his girlfriend in 2007.

A division bench of justices B R Gavai and S V Kotwal dismissed an appeal filed by convict Manish Thakur, who was employed with the aeronautical wing of the Indian Navy.

In the appeal, Thakur had challenged a sessions court order of March 4, 2014 convicting him of murdering Kaushambi Layek, an employee of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

“This is a case of love affair gone wrong. The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the case against the appellant (Thakur),” the bench said in its judgement.

Noting that the present case rested completely on circumstantial evidence, the court held that the prosecution had succeeded in proving the case against Thakur.

“It is difficult to find out the motive in such cases. It is always difficult to extract the reason for such an offence from the deep dark recesses of the human mind and convert it into a tangible evidence,” the court said.

The court noted that in the present case, the victim had willingly accompanied her “potential murderer unsuspecting of his intentions”.

“The culprit had accompanied her after making all the preparations and in particular carrying weapons with him,” the judgment said.

The bench noted that the prosecution had proved that the couple checked into a hotel in suburban Mumbai on May 12, 2007 and till May 14, when the body was found by the hotel staff in the room, they (hotel staff) had seen the victim and the appellant together.

“Hence, the onus is on the appellant to prove his innocence,” the court said.

The bench further held that Thakur had failed to establish his defence of alibi and it refused to accept his contention that he had returned to his naval station in Goa and resumed his training after meeting Layek on May 12.

As per the prosecution’s case, Thakur and 24-year-old Layek first met on a train to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, where they were attending separate training programmes in 2005. But their relationship grew on social networking site Orkut.

However, later when Layek came to know that Thakur was already married, she sought to end the relationship. Thakur pleaded with Layek to marry him and said that he would divorce his wife.

Thakur convinced Layek to meet him for one last time and they checked into the hotel on May 12, 2007.

Thakur, after shooting Layek dead, went to Vasco in Goa and resumed training in INS Hansa. He was arrested a few days later.

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