Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli was on Friday sentenced to life imprisonment by a special MCOCA court in Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar murder case.
Special MCOCA court judge Prithviraj Chavan, while pronouncing the judgement in Mumbai, also imposed a fine of Rs 17 lakhs on Gawli, failing which he will have to undergo an additional three-year imprisonment.
Ten others were also awarded life imprisonment in the case while accused Sunil Ghate was convicted only under Arms Act and has been sent to three years' rigorous imprisonment.
The court also sent Gawli to ten-year imprisonment each for being a member of the organised crime syndicate and extortion.
While pronouncing the sentence, judge Chavan said "Instead of death I am giving you life imprisonment."
During arguments on sentencing in the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Court, the once feared underworld don had told judge Chavan that there was no reason for him to kill the Sena corporator for a "paltry" amount of Rs 30 lakh.
Ganster-turned-politician Arun Gawli being taken to Sessions Court. PTI
"After 2007 BMC elections, when Shiv Sena was not in majority it was our Akhil Bharatiya Sena who gave them support of four corporators (to attain majority). At that time each of our corporator commanded very high monetary value (for providing support) and there was no reason for me to kill Jamsandekar for Rs 30 lakh," Gawli argued.
On August 24, the former MLA and 11 others were found guilty of murdering Jamsandekar in 2008. According to the chargesheet, a sum of Rs 30 lakh was paid to the Gawli gang for eliminating the Sena corporator over a land deal.
Earlier, Gawli's lawyer Sudeep Passbola had argued in the court that his client should not be given capital punishment, as demanded by the prosecution. "Give a dog a bad name and shoot it - that should not be the principle," Passbola had said.
According to police, the contract for killing Jamsandekar was given by Sahebrao Bhintade and Bala Surve, who were reportedly the Sena corporator's rivals in construction business and local politics.
Crime Branch had said the other reason why Jamsandekar was killed was that Bintade and Surve were eyeing a plot at Saki Naka in suburban Mumbai and the corporator reportedly "refused to cooperate".
Jamsandekar was murdered at the behest of Gawli, who had, along with the co-accused, conspired to eliminate him. He was shot dead in March 2008 at his residence in suburban Ghatkopar.
Gawli was arrested on May 21, 2008 and is in custody since then.On October 7, 2010, the court framed charges against Gawli and other accused under MCOCA, sections 302 (murder), 34 (common intention) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. All accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Demanding death penalty for Gawli and co-accused Vijay Giri and Pratap Borse, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare had said this was the first case in which the kingpin of an organised crime syndicate had been convicted.
Thakare had said Gawli was heading an organised crime syndicate and used Akhil Bhartiya Sena (ABS) as a political front for his "criminal activities".
"The gang slowly expanded its horizons, where they misguided youth and got them to do illegal work," Thakare had said, adding the gang members continued to operate from jail.
Gawli's lawyer Sudeep Passbola said Jamsandekar was not targeted for extortion but for political vendetta and rivalry.
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