The Supreme Court today upheld the life imprisonment awarded to six men including the owner of a petrol pump for the murder of Indian Oil Corporation executive S Manjunath in Lakhimpur Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh as they bore “grudge” against the victim, who had reported irregularities and adulteration at the outlet.
Manjunath, an IIM-Lucknow alumunus and resident of Karnataka, was gunned down at Gola area of the district on November 19, 2005, after he threatened to cancel the petrol pump’s license for selling spurious fuel.
The six men—Petrol pump owner Pawan Kumar Mittal, his associates Devesh Agnihotri, Rakesh Kumar Anand, Shivkesh Giri, Vivek Sharma, Rajesh Verma—were held guilty under Sections 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the IPC and provisions of the Arms Act.
A bench of Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and N V Ramana dismissed the appeals filed by the convicts against the Allahabad High Court, which had awarded life term to them.
Mittal’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the High Court.
“We feel that the motive behind the brutal murder of the deceased as brought forward by the prosecution is trustworthy in the light of material available on record. Considering the evidence on record, there is no doubt in our mind that Manjunath had inspected M/s Mittal Automobiles on September 13, 2005 and on finding irregularities, he had reported the same to the IOC and at his instance, the sales and supplies to the Pump of Mittal were suspended.
“...though, the sales and supplies were resumed on Oct 19, 2005, the deceased had again inspected the pump on November 19, 2005, a day before he was found dead. Suspecting that the deceased would again give report to IOC alleging irregularities in the supplies, in which event, he would either be called upon to pay fine or may render his licence suspended, Mittal bore grudge and with the assistance of other accused, murdered the deceased,” the bench said.