A Delhi session court on Tuesday sentenced to life former union Coal Minister and JMM chief Shibu Soren for the abduction and murder of his private secretary Shashi Nath Jha twelve years ago.
Four others convicted in the case -- Nand Kishore Mehta alias Nandu, Shailendra Bhattacharya, Pashupati Nath Mehta alias Posho and Ajay Kumar Mehta alias Dillip have also been handed down life sentence.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs five lakh on Soren. Out of that Rs one lakh will go to the victim's mother Priyamvada Jha and Rs two lakh each will be distributed to his two daughters.
During the arguments on sentence, CBI demanded death sentence for Soren while his lawyer pleaded for letting him off on probation considering his age, stature and poor health.
Additional Sessions Judge BR Kedia had pronounced all the accused guilty on November 28. The court, however, acquitted two co-accused, Sunil Khaware and Ashish Thakur.
Nand Kishore Mehta has been convicted for murdering Jha in conspiracy with other co-accused. Soren and other three accused, had been found guilty under sections 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy) read with 364 (Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 302 (murder) of the IPC.
As per the prosecution, Jha's knowledge of the alleged deal between Congress and JMM to save the PV Narasimha Rao government in January 1993 no-confidence motion had led to Jha's murder. Also what agitated Soren was that three days before his mysterious disappearance, Jha had allegedly sodomised Soren's close relative.
According to the CBI, Jha was abducted from Delhi by Nandu and five others and taken to a house at Piska in Ranchi on May 22, 1994 and after that they killed him in a nearby jungle and buried his body. Jha was last seen in the company of Mehta.
CBI had exhumed a skeleton from Piska Nagari on August 13, 1998 and claimed it was that of Jha. Following the recovery of the skeleton, Soren and six others were arrested in the case.
CBI had said Jha had on several occasions allegedly demanded money from Soren to suppress the facts relating to the no-confidence motion.
The investigating agency had said that Soren initially paid Rs 15 lakh to Jha to set up a garment export factory in South Delhi and when the business failed, the victim began extorting money which finally led to his murder.