The Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment six men held guilty of killing Indian Oil Corporation sales manager S Manjunath, who had exposed corruption and oil adulteration racket in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana trashed the appeals filed by the convicts against the 2009 verdict of the Allahabad High Court, which had convicted the six men and acquitted two others in case of killing Manjunath. Manjunath was a graduate from IIM-Lucknow who was 27-year-when he was murdered on November 19, 2005.
According to the prosecution, Manjunath had threatened to cancel the licence of Mittal’s petrol pump for selling adulterated fuel, which formed the motive for the accused to kill him. His bullet-riddled body was recovered from a car in Maholi area in the neighbouring Sitapur district the next day. The issue had drawn loud public outcry following which the case was entrusted to the CBI, which succeeded in bringing the culprits to book.
Terming the murder as “ pre-determined and planned”, the trial court had in 2007 convicted all the eight accused. While Mittal was sentenced to death, the other seven, charged with criminal conspiracy, were sentenced to Life Term. Upholding the convictions of six of the eight accused including Mittal, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had in December 2009 however commuted the death sentence of Mittal into a life term and also acquitted two – Rajiv Awasthi and Harish Misra – holding that nothing incriminating was recovered from them. The life terms to five other accused – Devesh Agnihotri, Rakesh Anand, Vivek Sharma, Shivesh Giri and Rajesh Sharma – were upheld.
After Manjunath’s murder, two IIM graduates – Anjali Mulatti and Jaishankar – had set up ‘The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust’, to secure justice for Manjunath by getting his killers punished.
Manjunath had turned down many lucrative offers from the private sector and chose to take up his first assignment with India’s largest public sector oil company.
Courtesy: Indian Express, 11 March,2015