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Supreme Court awards life imprisonment to six convicts in Manjunath murder case

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court awarded life imprisonment to six men who were convicted in the high profile murder case of Indian Oil Corporation sales manager S Manjunath. S Manjunath was murdered for exposing the oil adulteration racket in the district of LakhimpurKheri in Uttar Pradesh.

A bench comprising Justice RanjanGogoi and Justice N V Ramana quashed the appeals filed by six men against the 2009 judgment of the Allahabad High Court, convicting them and acquitting 2 others in the Manjunath murder case.

S Manjunath, a 27 year old IIM-Lucknow graduate was murdered on November 19, 2005. He had been shot dead on reaching the petrol pump owned by the prime accused Pawan Kumar aka Monu Mittal. Manjunath had reached the petrol pump in order to collect samples of adulterated petrol which had allegedly been sold at the outlet.

As per the prosecution’s case, Mr.Manjunath had threatened Mittal with the cancellation of licence on the ground of selling impure/adulterated fuel. The prosecution argued that said threat of cancellation was the primary motive for the murder of Mr.Manjunath.

The case had garnered immense public outrage and furore in the media, in the after-math of which the murder investigation had been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation which was ultimately successful in bringing a water-tight case against the perpetrators.

The trial court, in 2007 had convicted all the 8 accused terming Manjunath’s murder as predetermined. The trial court had awarded death sentence to Mittal, while the other seven were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, in December 2009 had upheld the trial court judgment in part, upholding the convictions of six of the accused. However, Mittal’s death sentence was converted and commuted into life imprisonment while the other 2 accused were acquitted on lack of any incriminating evidence against them.

In the after math of heinous murder, 2 other IIM graduates- Anjali Mulatti and Jaishankar had established ‘The ManjunathShanmugam Trust’ which campaigned extensively for securing justice for S. Manjunath.

by Siddhartha Singh.