A special court Friday sentenced mafia don-turned politician Arun Gawli and his 10 associates to life imprisonment for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar in 2007.
Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court Special Judge Prithviraj Chavan, who also slapped a Rs.1.70 million fine on Gawli, pronounced the punishment after finding all 12 accused guilty last Friday for the murder of Jamsandekar.
Gawli's daughter, Geeta Gawli, who was present in the court, said justice was not done to her father.
"Justice has not been done to him. We shall appeal in the Bombay High Court," Geeta Gawli told mediapersons after the verdict.
But Jamsandekar's widow Komal expressed happiness, saying "justice has been finally done."
Gawli, dressed in white and sporting his trademark white Gandhi cap, who has remained behind bars since his arrest in 2008, heard the verdict quietly with a wry smile on his face.
Jamsandekar was killed outside his home in Asalpha area of Ghatkopar in Mumbai following a dispute over land.
This is the first conviction for Gawli, the mafia don who was an elected legislator from south Mumbai between 2004-2009.
The judge had acquitted three other accused in the case for lack of evidence; one of the accused Bala Surve died in July.
While pronouncing the verdict, the judge said: "Instead of death, I am giving you life imprisonment."
Imposing a hefty Rs. 17 million fine on Gawli, the judge ruled that if he failed to pay up, he would have to undergo an additional three years of imprisonment.
Gawli and his associates were found guilty of "hatching a conspiracy" to kill Jamsandekar.
There others awarded life sentence are Sahebrao Bhintale, Sandeep Gangal, Shrikrishna Gurav, Pratap Godse, Ajit Rane, Suresh Patil, Ashok Jaiswal, Vijay Giri, Narendra Giri and Anil Giri.
One accused, Sunil Ghate, was awarded a three-year sentence under the Arms Act.
Two other accused, Suresh Panchal and Dinesh Narkar, were acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence.
According to prosecution, while Surve and Bhintale paid the money to Gawli, the Giri trio -- Vijay, Narendra and Anil-- planned and executed Jamsandekar's killing.
Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakre had forcefully sought death penalty for Gawli and three others as "the crime was carried out in cold blood by an organised crime syndicate."
He contended that the contract to kill Jamsandekar had been given to Gawli by Bala Surve and Sahebrao Bhintale who nursed business and political rivalries with the Shiv Sena leader.
The prosecution said Jamsandekar was eliminated as he refused to cooperate with Surve and Bhintale for a deal involving a prime plot in Saki Naka in Mumbai.
The police chargesheet, filed on Oct 7, 2010, said Jamsandekar was killed at Gawli's behest for Rs.3 million.
While Gawli had taken the contract, the other co-accused conspired in the murder case, it said.
All the accused were charged under the stringent MCOCA and sections 302 (murder), 34 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code among others offences.
Interestingly, during the arguments on the quantum of sentence under MCOCA earlier this week, Gawli had argued that there was no reason for him to kill Jamsandekar for a "paltry amount of Rs.3 million."
Gawli had pointed out that after the 2007 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, his party, Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS), had supported the Shiv Sena which had not secured a majority.
Gawli said that at that point of time (2007), ABS corporators commanded a high monetary value. So there was no point in killing Jamsandekar for just Rs.3 million.
Besides the Jamsandekar murder, at least four dozen serious cases have been registered against Gawli in the city, most of them pending at various stages.