The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court decision of life imprisonment for six men held guilty of murdering young engineer Shanmughan Manjunath who stood up to the oil mafia in Uttar Pradesh.
The 27-year-old Indian Oil Corporation manager was gunned down on November 19, 2005 at a busy market in Lakhimpur Keri town after he laid bare a scheme to sell adulterated petrol and refused to accept bribes.
The incident exposed the deep inroads made by UP’s oil mafia in the retail business and triggered nationwide outrage as activists demanded the government come up with strong laws to protect whistleblowers.
A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and NV Ramana rejected appeals filed by the convicts against the Allahabad high court verdict, handing them the life term.
Petrol pump owner Pawan Kumar, also known as Monu Mittal, is among those found guilty of murder. The five others are Rakesh Anand, Vivek Sharma, Devesh Agnihotri, Shiv Kesh Giri and Rajesh Verma.
The IIM-Lucknow graduate was killed after he went on a surprise raid at Mittal’s petrol pump, which had been sealed by Manjunath for selling impure petrol but was still operating.
The case was investigated by the CBI. A trial court had in March 2007 sentenced Mittal and Agnihotri to death, but it was commuted to life by the Allahabad high court.
Following the murder, two IIM graduates – Anjali Mulatti and Jaishankar –set up “The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust”, to secure justice for him.