Judge S G Shete had convicted them on Friday. In the 280-page ruling, the judge observed, "It is a clear case of conspiracy which is mainly based on circumstances. Prosecution has successfully proved that death of Bhagat and six others was not accidental but homicidal.
" According to the prosecution, Bhagat's wife Jaya and son Hitesh wanted to usurp his property and take over his multi-crore gambling (matka) business. Bhagat, along with six others, was killed on Alibaug-Pen road near Mumbai on June 13, 2008 when a truck collided with his SUV.
Probe revealed that it was an orchestrated accident, carried out at the behest of his wife and son. Mumbai Crime Branch arrested Suhas Roge, Harish Mandvekar, Kiran Amle, Shaikh Azimuddin, Pravin Shetty, Jaya Bhagat, Hitesh Bhagat and Kiran Pujari; however Pujari and Azimuddin were granted pardon as they turned approver. The rest were convicted. The prosecution had argued that the accused should be given capital punishment as the case falls under 'rarest of the rare' category.
However, judge Shete observed that though six innocent persons were killed in the orchestrated accident (apart from Bhagat), it was not a rarest of the rare case and "life imprisonment would meet the ends of the justice". Although the conspiracy aimed at eliminating only Bhagat, the intention of killing the co-passengers must be attributed to the accused, the court said.