A sessions court on Thursday sentenced accused Vijesh Sanghvi to life imprisonment in the kidnapping and murder case of 13-year-old Adit Ranka.
Observing that Sanghvi should not be released before he completes an actual term of 30 years’ imprisonment, Principal Judge S B Agrawal has ordered him to serve two consecutive seven-year terms before his life sentence commences. Sanghvi, a 32-year-old MBA graduate, has been behind bars since May 2013.
On Thursday, family members of Sanghvi prayed before the judgment was announced the quantum of punishment under Sections 302 (murder), 364 A (kidnapping for ransom), 387 (putting person in fear of death to commit extortion) and 201 (destruction of evidence) under the Indian Penal Code. On Monday, the court had acquitted Adit’s cousin, Himanshu.
Surrounded by family members, including his wife who stood next to him throughout, Sanghvi broke into tears. Also present in the courtroom was Chandrika Ranka, Adit’s mother, who could not hold back her tears. “I want to talk to him (Sanghvi). I want to ask him why? I have waited for over four years for this. My son was beaten mercilessly and burnt alive by him. He deserves this punishment,” Chandrika said. She approached Sanghvi to confront him but was restrained by policemen outside the courtroom. Court says no motive ‘cogently established’ against Ranka’s cousin
On May 13, 2013, Adit was allegedly kidnapped by Sanghvi from his house and driven out of the city. The court observed that the condition in which Adit’s body was found on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway proved that the death was homicidal. The court also said it was proven that Sanghvi had made huge losses in betting on IPL matches and was being pressed hard for making payment due to which, he kidnapped the boy for ransom.
The court relied on the deposition of two bookies who said Sanghvi had incurred losses while betting. “Involvement in betting is itself an offence and normally, no person would admit to have committed such an offence. Thus, I have no hesitation to hold that accused number 1 (Sanghvi) had lost Rs 7 lakh in betting with these persons and was being pressed hard for repayment,” the court said.
It further ruled that CCTV footage at a telecom store in Sion had shown Adit with Sanghvi. The timing of the ransom calls made to Adit’s father, Jitendra, also matched with the time Sanghvi was seen stepping out of the store away from Adit. The court also found that the telephone number of a PCO in Sion matched with the number from which the ransom call was made.
Sanghvi had said he was at the Sion store but claimed that Adit was there with another person. The court observed that Sanghvi had not been able to give a “cogent explanation” regarding the whereabouts of Adit. “The time gap between when they were last seen together and the death of the victim is so short that it rules out every possibility of any third party indulgence,” the court said.
While the prosecution had sought death sentence, the court said the case did not fall in the “rarest of rare” category. Sanghvi was told to pay a fine of Rs 9 lakh. The court said the money be paid to Adit’s mother.