Manjunath's killer gets life instead of death

Lucknow court refuses to call it rarest of rare case

A division bench comprising justices K K Mishra and D V Sharma, while commuting the death sentence given to Pawan Mittal alias Monu Mittal by the lower court, upheld life sentences to five other accused.

The court, however, acquitted two others—Harish Mishra and Sanjiv Awasthi—for lack of evidence.

Contention rejected

In its judgment, the court rejected the lower court contention that the case fell in the category of “rarest of the rare case” and that Monu Mittal deserved capital punishment.

Indian Institute of  Management -Lucknow spokesman Siddharth Jindal, while reacting to the verdict, said it was “disappointing.”

A court in Lakhimpur-Kheri district in March 2007 sentenced to death petrol pump owner Pawan Mittal, the main accused while seven other accused were given life imprisonment.

Manjunath, an Indian Institute of  Management Lucknow graduate, was shot dead at a petrol pump at Gola in Lakhimpur Kheri district after he threatened to cancel Mittal’s licence for selling spurious fuel.

Convicted

Besides Mittal, the others convicted were Devesh Agnihotri, Sanjay Awasthi, Rakesh Anand, Shivkesh Giri, Rajesh Verma, Harish Mishra and Vivek Sharma.

The killing of Manjunath had evoked a sharp reaction from the industry, Indian Institute of  Management students and alumni and social organisations, which had demanded stern punishment for the guilty.

A day after his murder, Manjunath’s body was recovered from a car at Maholi in neighbouring Sitapur district.

Rakesh Anand and Vivek Sharma, who had gone to Sitapur to dispose of the body, were caught there.

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