The Bombay High Court on Monday upheld a lower court’s conviction of gangster Arun Gawli in the 2007 murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar in Ghatkopar. Gawli and 10 co-accused will continue to serve life terms while the HC also upheld the 10-year jail term awarded to another accused.
Jamsandekar was gunned down outside his home in Ghatkopar (West) in March 2007. It was only after the Mumbai Police Crime Branch took over the investigation that it established Gawli’s role in the killing. In the course of its investigation, the crime branch had arrested 21 people and booked them under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
Gawli was convicted by the sessions court in 2012 for killing Jamsandekar on the orders of his rivals Sahebrao Bhintade, Sadashiv Surve and Ajit Rane.
A bench of Justice B P Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi on Monday also upheld life terms awarded to Bhintade and Rane, while Surve passed away in 2012. Gawli’s lawyer, Sudatta Patil, had argued that he was falsely implicated in the case as he was arrested one-and-a-half years after the murder. “We will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court,” he said.
However, Special Public Prosecutor Avadhut Chimalkar had told the HC that the crime branch’s investigation and sessions court’s verdict had made evident that Gawli’s gang was a criminal syndicate as defined under the MCOCA.
“There was also electronic evidence showing the presence of the accused at the site of the crime and also of Gawli receiving a payment of Rs 30 lakh from the accused to execute the murder,” Chimlakar said.
Crime branch officials who have been investigating Gawli over the years said while no new complaint has been received against his gang over the past few years, they retain the potential to become operational once more. “Each time he is released on parole and goes home, we have to keep a close eye on him because there is always the fear of him resuming his extortion activities,” said a senior officer.
Another officer claimed that in the six years that Gawli has spent in Nagpur Jail, police have not received any complaints. The only other case now pending against Gawli is that of extortion from a businessman in 2008.