Thursday, August 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Chetan’s sons get life term
Plotted to kill Priya to deny her share of bequest

Mumbai, July 31
One of the most sensational trials to rock Bollywood concluded today with a sessions court sentencing Ketan and Vivek Anand, sons of the late director Chetan Anand, their maidservant Mala Chaudhary and accomplice Ashok Swami to life imprisonment for the murder of film actress Priya Rajvansh over two years ago.

Ms Rajvansh, a close friend of Chetan Anand, was found dead in the bathroom of a bungalow at Juhu in north-west Mumbai on March 23, 2000, with strangulation marks on her throat.

She was to inherit one-third of the property of Chetan Anand according to his will, with equivalent shares for Ketan and Vivek.

The brothers were found guilty under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code for hatching a criminal conspiracy to kill Priya, and awarded life terms along with a fine of Rs 20,000 each, or in default, an additional rigorous imprisonment for a year.

Ashok Swami and Mala Chaudhary were found guilty under Section 302 of the IPC read with 120B and awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 each.

As many as 22 witnesses deposed before the court, including director Vijay Anand, hotel owners Harish Shetty and Ramesh Khanna, and a friend, Monica Arora, who stood as alibis for the accused.

Prosecution witness S. Dharam Pal, an STD booth owner in Chennai, turned hostile during the trial.

Priya Rajvansh, who had acted in blockbusters like ‘Heer Ranjha’, ‘Hindustan ki Kasam’ and ‘Hanste Zakham’, was found murdered on March 23, 2000 in the bathroom of the late Chetan Anand’s Ruia Park bungalow in Juhu.

The actress, who was in dire need of money, wanted a share of the property according to the will. The brothers, therefore, connived with maid Mala Chaudhary and associate Ashok Swami from Tamil Nadu and hatched a plot to kill her, the prosecution submitted.

Ketan Anand told the court that he was at a party at a neighbour’s bungalow when he was informed about the death. However, an autopsy was conducted after the Anand brothers failed to get a natural death certificate from Dr Ramesh Agarwal, who was summoned by them.

The autopsy revealed that there were ligature marks around Priya’s neck and some contusions on her skull caused by a blunt object. The cause of the death was stated as strangulation of the wind pipe (unnatural).

A second autopsy was then conducted at the JJ Post-mortem Centre, with police surgeon G.V. Uppe among the panel of doctors. Their findings confirmed the earlier report. Accordingly, the Juhu police registered a case of murder.

After the confessional statement of maid Mala Chaudhary and Ashok Swami, Ketan and Vivek Anand were arrested under Section 120B (conspiracy) read with Section 302 (murder) of the IPC. Mala and Ashok were held under Sections 201, 202, 203 (disappearance of evidence) and 34 (common intention).

The brothers were behind bars for nearly five months till September 7, 2000 when they were granted bail. Among those who deposed in court was Kanwal Singh, brother of the slain actress. UNI

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