The special court set up under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA), 1999 on Friday sentenced six accused in the Sagar Sahani abduction and murder case to life imprisonment. The court acquitted four of the accused for want of evidence.
Son of a Nigdi businessman, Sagar Sahani (22) was abducted in Pimpri, taken to various places in Maharashtra and Goa, held hostage for 10 days and murdered the day after his parents paid ransom of Rs15 lakh.
Special judge SP Tawade also imposed fines on the convicts. The total fines imposed on Prasad Jagannath Shetty, Chhotu alias Arvindbhai Vitthalbhai Patel alias Chowdhary, Bhiku Dayaram Thanki, Jitendra Shantilal Modha, Chhotu Ghisaiwaala alias Ravitsingh Bhadoriya alias Rajput and Nitin Shantilal Modha runs to the tune of Rs61 lakh.
The six were convicted of criminal conspiracy, abduction for ransom, robbery and murder under the Indian Penal Code, 1960. The court also applied the stringent provisions of MCOCA.
The court acquitted Jagmalsingh Bhuraram Chowdhary (36), Samant Boga Gadhvi alias Kariya (42), Ajay Parvat Gadhvi (35) and Dinesh Karsanbhai Dhukadiya (34), all residents of Gujarat. Accused-turned-approver Narang Govind Jamaria (58) of Gujarat was discharged and his release ordered.
The proceedings began at 11.20 am with additional public prosecutor Sudhir Shah pleading for death sentence to the convicts. He said, “The crime is brutal and heinous. Sagar was a college student and had not provoked the accused or had any rivalry with them. He was done to death even after the ransom was paid. The accused committed the crime out of greed for money. This is the rarest of rare case involving an international gang. Young Sagar would have been the breadwinner of the family whom they killed brutally.”
Defence lawyers Vidyadhar Koshe, Vipul Dushing and Jilani Pirjade argued, “This is not the rarest of the rare case.”
The defence lawyers said, “There was no brutality involved as the post-mortem report speaks of a single injury on Sagar. He had an opportunity to escape. The approver had asked him to leave Pune but he did not do so. This shows that he was not in a helpless condition.”
Koshe referred to cases like Dr Mahajan murder case, Amit Sonawane murder case and Kartik Raj murder case in which the accused were awarded capital punishment by the local court, but the high court observed that they were not the rarest of rare cases and their sentences were reduced to life imprisonment.
The court said in its order, “The case is not the rarest of the rare. Hence, it does not qualify for capital punishment to the convicts.”
The court relied on circumstantial evidence and the statement of the approver. The forensic laboratory report showed the presence of blood stains in the vehicles. When police searched accused Nitin Modha’s house, they seized Sagar’s college receipts and visiting cards.