Six people convicted for the murder of matka king Suresh Bhagat, including his former wife, Jaya Cheda, and son Hitesh, were saved from a death sentence on Wednesday, after the sessions court refused to consider that the case was ‘rarest of rare.’
They have now been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a fine of Rs. 40,000 each. They plan to challenge the verdict in the Bombay high court.
On Tuesday, the prosecution had sought death sentence for the six convicts.
Turning down their plea, judge SG Shete said, “Even when it has come on record that the crime committed by the accused is of hatching the conspiracy and killing Bhagat and six other innocent persons, the case cannot be said to be rarest of rare.And I am of the opinion that punishment of life imprisonment would meet the end of the justice.”
The court had on Friday convicted six accused, including Suhas Roge, who Jaya had allegedly been having an affair with, Harish Mandvekar, Kiran Amle and Pravin Shetty, along with Jaya and Hitesh, for criminal conspiracy and murder.
In the 280 page judgment, the judge observed, “All circumstances clearly show the accused hatched a conspiracy to kill Bhagat and successfully executed it. It is obvious the murder of was committed in a premeditated and calculated manner.”
According to the prosecution, on June 13, 2008, Bhagat and six others were killed in an accident on the Alibaug-Pen road, when a truck collided with their Scorpio.
Investigations revealed the apparent accident was actually a plan to kill Bhagat.
The prosecution alleged that Bhagat’s wife and son plotted the murder to take over his multi-crore matka business and usurp his property.
The judge observed that though the conspiracy was just to kill Bhagat, the circumstances of the case also show the intention to kill the others.
The convicts were given a copy of the judgment on Wednesday evening.
“The judgment is not acceptable to me. I know I have not done anything and I have faith in God. I will soon come out clean,” Jaya said to the media.