A murder case punctuated by too many twists and turns has finally resulted in life imprisonment being awarded to all the 12 accused, including a former BBMP corporator and her husband.
Gowramma C G, a former corporator of Azadnagar, her husband C Govindaraju, and 10 others were sentenced in the murder of RTI activist Lingaraju. A sessions court convicted the accused on Wednesday and announced the quantum of punishment on Thursday.
Lingaraju was hacked to death near his residence in Vittalnagar, off Mysuru Road, West Bengaluru, on November 20, 2012, days after the Lokayukta police raided the houses of Gowramma and her driver. Gowramma was accused of having assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. The raid was conducted on a complaint by Lingaraju.
The police suspected Gowramma and Govindaraju in the murder. It later emerged that Govindaraju had hired hitmen for Rs 15 lakh by contacting a convicted prisoner lodged in the Parappana Agrahara jail. Police subsequently arrested the couple and other accused, namely Rangaswamy, R Shankar, Raghavendra, Chandra, Shankar, Umashankar, Velu C, Loganath, Zaheer and Suresh.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed on a high court order to file the charge sheet within a month. Accordingly, the SIT, consisting of investigating officer Tilak Chandra and inspectors Manoj Kumar H and Mohammed Ali — under the supervision of IPS officer Pronab Mohanty and the guidance of IPS officer Abdul Ahad — filed the charge sheet running into 5,186 pages in February 2013. The charge sheet included technical evidence and the testimony of 103 witnesses, including the relatives of the accused.
People in the know say the accused tried to implicate special public prosecutor Sadashiva Murthy in a false case of rape and hired a battery of lawyers to delay the trial. Investigators did mahazar (spot inspection) of 25 places where the accused had gathered before and after killing Lingaraju. They also checked the call detail record of the phones of the accused. This all helped build a watertight case.