Petrol pump owner Pawan Kumar Mittal, the main accused in the sensational murder of Indian Oil sales manager Manjunath, was sentenced to death by a district court on Monday, while the other seven accused were given life imprisonment.
Delivering the verdict in a packed court room, District Judge S M A Abidi said the murder of 27-year-old Manjunath on November 19, 2005, was planned because weapons of different persons residing in different localities were used.
The death sentence would be subject to confirmation by the high court. The court had convicted all the eight accused last Friday for killing the IIM-Lucknow graduate who had exposed a racket in the sale of adulterated fuel.
Manjunath was shot dead at a petrol pump in Gola area in Lakhimpur Kheri district after he threatened to cancel Mittal's licence for selling spurious fuel.
The court also punished the eight accused under different sections of the IPC to imprisonment ranging from six months to seven years and imposed fines on them.
All the sentences would run concurrently. The judge opined that the conduct of different accused after the incident also confirmed that they had participated in the crime.
The eight accused were convicted under Sections 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of
evidence) of the IPC and provisions of the Arms Act.
Besides Mittal, the others convicted were Devesh Agnihotri, Sanjay Awasthi, Rakesh Anand, Shivkesh Giri, Rajesh Verma, Harish Mishra and Vivek Sharma.
While Harish Mishra had earlier been enlarged on bail, the rest were in the jail.
The killing of Manjunath had evoked sharp reaction from the industry, IIM students and alumni and several social organisations, which had demanded stern punishment for the guilty.
A day after his murder, Manjunath's body was recovered from a car in Maholi area in the neighbouring Sitapur district.
Rakesh Anand and Vivek Sharma, who had gone to Sitapur to dispose┬áthe body, were caught there.
The police filed the chargesheet in the case on February 15, 2006, and the trial began on March 9. Charges under
the IPC and the Arms Act were framed on May 19 and the examination of the witnesses began from June 5.
As many as 23 witnesses were examined during the trial of whom three turned hostile after having giving their statements to the police.
The court had on March 9, 2006, reserved its judgment after the counsel for the prosecution and defence cited rulings of the Supreme Court and high courts to press for their points.