HC upholds life term for army man who ‘used his skills to kill’

Defence personnel are trained to kill to defend their country. It was the precision with which Vinod Panchal was shot dead with a 12-bore gun in 2004 that helped nail army man Omprakash Vaishnav for the murder.
The Bombay high court recently upheld the life imprisonment of Nashik resident Vaishnav, 30, for killing Panchal, whom Vaishnav suspected of having an illicit relationship with his wife.
“The accused (Vaishnav) being in services is consciously aware about impact by fire from rifle and used his skill by operating gun, fired single bullet to the chest of the victim who naturally suffered rat hole injury”, read the HC order.
The recent murder of Neeraj Grover — allegedly by naval officer Jerome Matthew and actor Maria Susayraj — too invited comments that it was Matthew’s defence training that had helped him chop up Grover’s body with clinical precision using a knife before disposing it.
In Vaishnav’s case, he was posted in Jammu and had come to Nashik on leave in June 2004.
He and his wife lived in the same block as Panchal. Vaishnav suspected that his wife, Shalini, was having an affair with Panchal and had even confronted him.
On August 26, 2004, Vaishnav had shared his suspicion with Panchal’s brother, Anil, who dismissed it as a misunderstanding. Anil even made Panchal and Vaishnav speak on the phone to sort out the issue.
Around 5pm Panchal returned home and was called by Vaishnav to his room. Two minutes later a gun shot was fired and Shalini’s shouts for help were heard by Anil and his mother, who rushed to the spot.
They found Vaishnav holding a gun and Panchal lying in a pool of blood. Vaishnav then threw the gun and ran to the bathroom and tried to consume poison. However, Panchal’s brother stopped him and later Vaishnav’s wife consumed the remaining poison and died in hospital.
In his defence, Vaihnav pleaded “not guilty” and claimed that he was in the bathroom when Panchal accidentally shot himself with the gun. However, relying on the testimonies of people who saw the accused with the gun in his hand after the incident and other evidence, Justices FI Rebello and KU Chandiwal disbelieved Vaishnav’s theory. “The gunshot to Vinod (Panchal) is by a skilled person/shooter which could be none other than the accused (Vaishnav)”, the court ruled.
Anshika Misra
Saturday, May 31, 2008 03:28 IST


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