A special trial court in Lucknow on Friday awarded life term to ruling Bahuijan Samaj Party MLA Shekhar Tiwari and his nine cohorts, including three policemen, for the gruesome murder of public works department engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta in Auraiya town, about 250 km from Lucknow, in 2008.
The MLA's wife, Vibha Tiwari, a co-accused in the case, was also awarded two-and-a-half years imprisonment for destroying evidence.
Gupta was lynched to death on the night of December 24, 2008 because of putting up resistance against extortion by the MLA, who was allegedly collecting money for chief minister Mayawati's mega birthday celebrations.
Tiwari had brutally beaten Gupta to death and he even went to the extent of not only dumping the victim's body at the local police station, but even ordering the local police inspector to "take appropriate steps to hush up the case."
The case was transferred to a special court in Lucknow following a request by the victim's family members who alleged that MLA Tiwari was trying to use his undue influence on the Auraiya court.
While hailing the verdict, special public prosecutor I B Singh said, "This was one of the most difficult cases in my life, because there were all kinds of pressures and the accused left no stone unturned to get the case stalled."
He went on to add, "The accused moved heaven and earth to get the case transferred from this special court headed by a very tough and upright judge Virendra Kumar. They even opposed the extension of his term as the presiding officer of the special court and when the matter went before the senior judge of the high court, they again moved another application against that on the plea that the senior judge of HC must not hear the plea as he was a member of the administrative committee which deals with transfer of judicial officers."
The special court headed by Virendra Kumar had started hearing the case with effect from July 2009 and completed hearing of all witnesses from both sides within record time.