Mumbai, Dec 17: Nearly 20 months after firebrand BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was murdered, his younger brother Pravin Mahajan was today found guilty of killing the former Union Minister and criminal trespassing by a sessions court here, which will pronounce the quantum of sentence tomorrow.
Ending the nine-month long eventful trial, Additional Session Court Judge S P Davare said considering all evidences brought on record by the prosecution during the trial process, accused Pravin Mahajan was found guilty under section 302 (Murder) and 449 (House trespass) of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The court will pronouce quantum of sentence tomorrow after the submissions of prosecution as well as defence advocates on it, Judge Davare added. As the judge pronounced the order, Pravin sat calmly on the bench in the dock of the court room.
The Judge pronounced the order after 20 months of the incident, in a jam-packed court room. While convicting Pravin today, the judge rejected the prosecution's contention that monetary demands had motivated the murder. The judge also rejected the contention that Pramod Mahajan's death was a result of accidental firing, and relied on eyewitness Rekha Mahajan's statement and that of the Mahajan family's domestic help Mahesh Wankhade that bullets were fired upon the BJP leader from a distance of three to four feet.
The Judge observed had this been so, there would have been blood stains on the clothes of the accused. But, no blood stains were found on Pravin's clothes. Pramod Mahajan's widow, Rekha, had stated in her deposition before the court that Pravin had fired upon her husband from some distance. The court observed the prosecution was not able to establish the motive behind the murder. The court also rejected the prosecution contention that Pravin had murdered Pramod Mahajan since the latter had refused to give him Rs one crore.
However, the court relied on the SMS sent by Pravin to Pramod on April 15, 2006, which read ''Ab na hogi yachana, na hogi prarthana. Ab ran hoga. Jeevan vijay, yaa phir maran hoga (Now, there will be no pain, no prayer. There will be a battle. There will be either victory or death)''. The court observed the defence had failed to establish that the SMS was tampered by someone. Only a demonstration to show that SMS can be fabricated, was not sufficient to consider that in the present case, the SMS was tampered, the Judge said.
Special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam later told reporters that the court had upheld the contention that Pramod Mahajan's last words to his brother-in-law Gopinath Munde on way to the hospital , ''Me Ase kay gunha kele ki Pravin ne mala golya marlya (What wrong have I done that Pravin shot at me?)'', should be considered as his ''dying declaration''.
Pravin was accused of allegedly shooting his elder brother Pramod on April 22 last year at the late BJP leaders Worli residence, wounding him seriously and, thereafter, surrendered himself along with his 0.32 bore pistol. The police filed a 650-page chargesheet before the court on July 14 last year.
Pramod had succumbed to the injuries on May 3 at P D Hinduja hospital.
During the trial, the prosecution had examined 32 witnesses, including Rekha Mahajan. She had identified the accused and told the court that he had shot Pramod.
Apart from Rekha, other prominent witnesses were Mr Munde his wife Pragnya, Pramod Mahajan's daughter Poonam Rao and others.
The defence had examined three witnesses, including the accused and his wife Sarangi.
The judge added that there had been some lapses in the investigations. When the accused had surrendered before the police, he could have been produced before a magistrate for recording his statement and finding out the motive behind the murder. But, the police did not do so.