A special court on Wednesday convicted former UP minister Amarmani Tripathi, his wife Madhumani and two others for the murder of Tripathi's pregnant girlfriend and poetess Madhumita Shukla and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Delivering the judgment in-camera, Sessions Judge VB Rai held all four responsible for murder, criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation. A fifth defendant, Prakash Pandey, was acquitted for lack of evidence.
The murder was carried out "at the behest" of Tripathi's wife, Madhumani, "who was opposed to (Madhumita's) affair with her husband", prosecutor Manohar Sharma said.
Tripathi, currently a Samajwadi Party MLA, was minister for registration and printing, and one of the closest advisors of Mayawati, who was chief minister then as well, when 26-year-old Madhumita was killed in her Lucknow apartment on May 9, 2003. Two young men entered Madhumita's flat and shot her at point-blank range.
The post mortem revealed that Madhumita had been seven months pregnant when she was killed. As Tripathi's close association with Madhumita became known, and suspicion zeroed in on his having sent the killers, he was dropped from the cabinet and the case handed to the state CID. Later, following allegations that Tripathi was trying to influence the police, the CBI took over, and after due investigations, arrested Tripathi and his wife.
When the trial began in Lucknow, Madhumita's sister Nidhi Shukla approached the Supreme Court seeking transfer of the case outside UP, since she feared no fair trial would be possible within the state due to Tripathi's interference. Based on her petition, the case was shifted to a special court in Dehradun in March this year.
While political parties reacted cautiously to the judgment, Tripathi's lawyer, Surat Singh Negi said they would appeal to a higher court.