Zee Media Bureau
Mumbai: A sessions court on Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to all six accused convicted in the murder case of matka-king Suresh Bhagat.
Among the accused are Bhagat`s wife and son.
According to the prosecution, the motive behind the murder was Bhagat`s wife Jaya and son Hitesh`s intention to usurp his property and take over his multi-crore gambling business.
Bhagat, along with five others, was killed, in pursuance to a conspiracy, on Alibaug-Pen road on June 13, 2008, when a truck collided with his Scorpio.
Later, police found that the accident had been orchestrated by his wife and others, for taking over the matka business, and they had hired Suhas Roge to do the job.
The Mumbai Crime Branch had arrested eight persons - Suhas Roge, Harish Mandvekar, Kiran Amle, Shaikh Azimuddin, Pravin Shetty, Jaya Bhagat, Hitesh Bhagat and Kiran Pujari - in connection with the case and booked them under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
However, in April 2009, the special MCOCA court dropped the stringent Act after the defence lawyers argued that there were no previous cases against their client, which is an important ingredient for applying MCOCA in the case.
Later, Kiran Pujari and Shaikh Azimuddin sought to become approvers in the case and the court directed a magistrate to record their confessions.
Pujari, in his confession, said that he had met Jaya at her residence and Roge had suggested eliminating Bhagat. He said that Jaya had allegedly said that Bhagat was going to destroy the matka business, and to this, Roge suggested that a more "permanent" arrangement should be made.
Chief public prosecutor Kalpana Chavan told the court that this was a cold blooded murder and examined 80 witnesses to prove the case.
However, what bolstered the prosecution case was the statement of confession by Pujari and Sheikh.
Sessions judge SG Shete convicted six accused for murder and criminal conspiracy and the quantum of sentence is likely to be handed over on July 29.
The two approvers were granted pardon.
With Agency inputs