PANAJI: The High Court of Bombay at Goa has upheld the life sentence for the four accused Rohan Dhungat, Nafiyaz Sheikh, Shankar Tiwari and Jovita Ryan Dos Remedios Pinto in the Mandar Surlakar murder case.
All the four accused were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Children’s Court in 2014 in the 2006 gruesome murder case.
Mandar, a 17-year-old DJ, was mercilessly killed by his friends of similar age while demanding a ransom of Rs 50 lakh from his builder father. Mandar was kidnapped from Vasco.
The Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice M S Sonak and Prithviraj K Chavan observed that they were satisfied that the Children’s Court was quite right in convicting the accused persons for the offence of murder and destruction of evidence because the evidence on record very clearly proved that the offences were committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.
“There is ample evidence on record which establishes beyond reasonable doubt the conspiracy between the accused persons not only abducting the victim for ransom but also to eliminate/murder the victim, in case no ransom is paid and there is a danger of the victim identifying the accused persons. In the present case, the victim knew the accused persons or at least knew some of the accused persons,” the court observed.
The court also observed that the victim was deceitfully induced to go with Rohan and Nafiyaz from Vasco to Mapusa/Ucassaim on the pretext of being shown sites for musical programmes. None of the accused persons were in any way concerned with the business of holding musical programmes or had any intention to show the victim any sites at Mapusa or any other place on the fateful day of August 14, 2006.
The accused persons had, in fact, conspired to abduct the victim for ransom and failing receipt of any ransom amount and because the victim’s father approached police, the accused persons proceeded to eliminate the victim in the most gruesome manner, as deposed by a prosecution witness, one of the conspirators, who eventually turned an approver.
The accused have been held guilty by the Children’s Court for murder, kidnapping for ransom, conspiracy and destroying evidence.
After realising that the father of Mandar was unable to pay the ransom amount while a police complaint had already been filed about the missing son, the four students tied up Mandar in a gunny bag, injected him and then killed him in a house at Ucassaim. His body was then thrown in a valley at Keri in Ponda.
The police began investigating after taking into custody Rohan and Shankar, who had taken Mandar along with them in a car. The over 2000-page charge sheet contained statements recorded of around 150, including 57 witnesses.