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HC Turns Letter to Enhance Susairaj's Penalty into Appeal

A letter written by Amarnath Grover, father of slain TV executive Neeraj Grover, seeking enhancement of punishment awarded to the two accused, namely Kannada actress Maria Susairaj and her naval officer boyfriend Emile Jerome, was converted into an appeal by the Bombay High Court here today.

Last year, a sessions court had acquitted both the accused under the charge of murder. While Jerome was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for culpable homicide, Susairaj was convicted on a lesser charge of destruction of evidence and sentenced to three years in jail. Since she had spent more time in jail as an undertrial, Susairaj was freed soon after.

After the lower court order, Maharashtra government approached the Bombay High Court seeking enhancement of punishment for the two accused and conviction under section 302 of IPC for murder. Neeraj's father Amarnath Grover too had written a letter to the high court seeking enhancement of punishment.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and S S Jadhav today converted Grover's letter into an appeal against the lower court order. Under Section 372 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a victim or victim's family can file an appeal challenging acquittal orders.

Besides the government and Amarnath, appeals have also been filed by Susairaj and Jerome challenging their convictions. Pinning the blame on Susairaj, Jerome in his appeal said that the motive if any, was hers.

All appeals have been admitted and will come up for hearing in due course of time. The Kannada actress on the other hand, has sought to put the blame on Jerome, stating that she tried to stop her boyfriend, but he attacked Neeraj.

According to the prosecution, the murder was pre-meditated, as Susairaj felt cheated by Grover who failed to get her a role in television serials. The state's appeal claims that Jerome came to Mumbai on May 6, 2008, as planned by him and Susairaj to kill Grover.

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