A Jodhpur court has charged former Rajasthan minister Mahipal Maderna and MLA Malkhan Singh Bishnoi for kidnap, murder and conspiracy in the Bhanwari Devi case, paving way for the trial.
Charges were framed against 16 accused by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court which retained all the sections against 13 of them that were mentioned in the CBI chargesheet, including kidnapping and murder.
Magistrate Girish Kumar Sharma, however, dropped the charges of murder and conspiracy against Paras Ram Bishnoi, brother of Malkhan Singh, and Om Prakash Bisnoi and granted them bail.
While Paras was charged under section 202 (intentional omission to give information of offence by person bound to inform) of Indian Penal Code (IPC), Om Prakash was charged with section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of IPC.
The murder charge was also dropped against Bhanwari Devi's husband Amarchand, who would be tried for offences under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) of IPC.
"The court will now read out the charges against Maderna and Malkhan on October 15 on account of their absence from the court on Thursday and that will be followed by the trial, in which the court will call the evidence," Special Senior Counsel for CBI Ashok Joshi said.
Maderna is currently out from jail till October 6 following the death of his mother.
Sunil Joshi, the counsel of Paras Ram, argued in the court that his client had no role in the crime and had been framed by the CBI only as he was brother of Malkhan The court discharged him from all the charges like 120 (B), 302 (murder), 364 and SC/ST Act.
Immediately, his counsel moved an application for his bail and admitting the application, the court granted him bail on a bond of Rs. 25,000.
Bhanwari Devi was killed on September 1, 2011, allegedly at the behest of then state minister Maderna and Congress legislator Malkhan Singh. The CBI, which had taken over the investigation a year ago, had alleged that Bhanwari Devi was blackmailing both of them on the basis of some CDs featuring her in a compromising position with the two politicians.
She was abducted from Jodhpur's Bilara area on September 1, 2011 and killed. Her body was then handed over to another gang which burnt and dumped it in a canal.