SC maintains lifer to 7 accused in Pintu Shirke murder case, acquits 4 others

Vijay Mate
Nagpur: The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of seven accused in the sensational Pintu Shirke murder case but acquitted four others.

The apex court maintained the life imprisonment awarded to former Corporator Vijay Mate, notorious goon Raju Bhadre, Umesh Dahake, Kiran Kaithe, Dinesh Gayaki, Ritesh Gawande, and Kamlesh Nimbarte by the High Court. The top court, however, turned down the High Court ruling convicting four other accused namely Mangesh Chavhan, Mahesh Bante, Pandurang Injewar, and Maroti alias Navva Walke and acquitted them.

The details of the Supreme Court are awaited.

It is pertinent to recall that the notorious goon Swapnil alias Pintu Shirke was lynched inside District and Sessions Court premises in Nagpur on June 19, 2002. During the trial, the District and Sessions Court had awarded life imprisonment to seven convicts in 2013. The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court maintained lifer awarded to prime accused and former Corporator Vijay Mate, notorious goon Raju Bhadre, Umesh Dahake, Kiran Kaithe, Dinesh Gayaki, Ritesh Gawande, and Kamlesh Nimbarte, while dismissing their criminal appeals challenging the Sessions Court’s conviction.

The High Court had also convicted Mangesh Chavhan, Mahesh Bante, Pandurang Injewar, and Maroti alias Navva Walke, who were earlier acquitted by Additional Session Judge S D Jagmalani on October 18, 2013.

Pintu Shirke was produced in court for the final hearing of Sanjay Gaikwad murder case when Vijay Mate along with several of his followers attacked him with sharp-edged weapons. Though Shirke was accompanied by four policemen, including two gunmen, the assailants lynched him to death. The cops could remain only spectators to the killing even as the attackers fled from the spot. The area was stained with blood while post mortem report revealed 50 stab injuries on Shirke’s body.

The murder was believed to be an outcome of dispute over encroachment by the then Corporator Mate on the former’s property. According to police, Annapurna Devi from Raghuji Bhonsale family had gifted 21 acre land in Sakkardara to Shirke’s father Dilip and relatives – Uday and Ranjeet. The family earlier stayed in Jalgaon.

Mate encroached upon seven sq ft area on this property. The tiff started when Shirke and his family shifted to the city. Shirke even conducted a meeting with Mate requesting him to remove the encroachment, but the latter flatly refused which triggered a gang war. On July 18, 2001, Mate was shot at, while his confidante Sanjay Gaikwad was shot dead in August in the same year. Shirke was later arrested as main accused in the same case.

All were convicted under Sections 147 (Rioting), 148 (Rioting with deadly weapons), 149 (Unlawful assembly) and Section 302 (Murder) read with Section 34 of IPC. Additionally, they are convicted under Section 25 of Arms Act and Section 135 of Bombay Prohibition (BP) Act.

Challenging the ruling of the High Court, all the convicts moved the Supreme Court for quashing their conviction.

The High Court had held that by committing the murder of a person in broad daylight in custody of court, the convicts committed dastardly act and created trepidation in the temple of justice,” the judges tersely observed while partly allowing Pintu’s mother Vijaya Shirke’s appeal challenging acquittal of other accused. They upheld acquittal of Mayur Chavan, Rajesh Kadu and Sandeep Sanas granted by the session court. They also acquitted Ayub Khan Pathan, who was originally convicted along with Mate and others, in absence of any substantial evidence.

—Ravikant Kamble