Updated: July 1, 2021 8:19:34 pm
The Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the conviction of Abdul Rauf Merchant in the murder case of Gulshan Kumar, founder of T-Series. Abdul Rauf, an aide of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002 for Kumar’s murder in 1997.
The bench also dismissed an appeal by the state government against the acquittal of accused Ramesh Taurani of Tips Industries. The court further partly allowed an appeal by the state government against the acquittal of accused Abdul Rashid Dawood Merchant, Abdul Rauf’s brother, sentencing him to life imprisonment.
Gulshan Kumar, the owner of T-Series, was shot dead while he was coming out of a temple in Mumbai on August 12, 1997. According to the prosecution, his industry rivals had paid money to Dubai-based gangster Abu Salem to kill him. The trial court, however, only convicted Rauf and acquitted others.
A division bench of Justice Sadhana S Jadhav and Justice Nitin R Borkar passed judgment on appeals by convict Rauf and the state, where advocate Satish Maneshinde appeared for the two brothers and noted that Rauf had “criminal antecedents”.
The bench observed, “It is a matter of record that the appellant Abdul Rauf had absconded soon after the incident, ie August 12, 1997, and could be arrested only in 2001. The appellant was enlarged on furlough in April 2009 and he had not surrendered within the stipulated time. He was arrested in November 2016. The appellant has criminal antecedents, and he continued in similar criminal activities thereafter also. Hence, in the interest of justice and society at large, the appellant does not deserve any leniency. Hence, the appellant shall not be entitled to any remissions whatsoever.”
The bench went on to say, “We have no doubt whatsoever that the prosecution has proved that the appellant Abdul Rauf has caused the homicidal death of deceased Gulshan Kumar by firing, and causing bullet injuries to his driver beyond reasonable doubt.”
The High Court, while partly allowing the state’s appeal challenging the acquittal of Abdul Rashid, convicted him of murder and criminal conspiracy and sentenced him to life imprisonment by asking him to surrender before the sessions court or DN Nagar police station.
The bench noted that Kumar was shot at by the assailants allegedly hired by Nadeem Saifee (of Nadeem-Shravan music composer duo fame) and Salem.
Justice Jadhav, who authored the 69- page judgment for the bench, observed, “The assailants had no personal animosity or grudge against the deceased Gulshan Kumar. They had committed the ghastly act as they were hired by Nadeem Saifee and Abu Salem, who wanted to satisfy their personal vendetta against the deceased. Unwarranted acquittals would not only give a wrong signal to the society, but would pose a threat to law and order… In fact, eyewitnesses could not have faulted the identity of the persons who killed the deceased in broad daylight. It was indeed a cold-blooded murder.”
The bench, while dismissing the appeal by the state against the acquittal of Ramesh Taurani, observed that there was “no cogent and convincing evidence to establish that Taurani had conspired with Saifee or Salem,” and therefore, his acquittal “did not call for any intervention”.
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