Suspected Indian gangster Chhota Rajan is shown in this photograph taken in Bangkok on September 26, 2000. Rajan escaped on November 24, 2000 from the fourth floor of a Thai hospital, where he had been detained by police since mid-September, by using a makeshift rope made from bedsheets. Rajan, awaiting a hearing to decide if he should be extradited to India to face 17 counts of murder and other mob-related charges, had been receiving treatment for gunshot wounds he suffered during a shootout in Bangkok on September 15, 2000.
NWA/CC - RTRB7BJ
Nearly seven years after the sensational killing of senior investigative journalist J Dey in broad daylight, a special court today sentenced gangster Chhota Rajan and eight others to life imprisonment for the murder but acquitted former crime reporter Jigna Vora.
Vora, who worked with another newspaper at that time and was also known for her crime reporting, was charged with instigating Rajan to carry out the killing in 2011 and the police had earlier suspected 'professional rivalry' as one of the reasons.
In his ruling today, the MCOCA court judge Sameer Adkar, however, acquitted Vora. The judge also acquitted Paulson Joseph, who was accused of handling the financial operations linked to the conspiracy.
The court imposed a fine of Rs 26 lakh on each of the convicts.
Dey, 56, was shot by some motorcycle-borne men on June 11, 2011 in suburban Powai when he was on his way to his residence. At that time, he worked as a senior editor for the tabloid, Mid Day.
Twelve people were arrested in the case, including Rajan, Satish Joseph alias Satish Kaliya, the shooter, and Vora, who had later got bail.
Rajan, who appeared during today's court proceedings via video conferencing from New Delhi's Tihar jail, where he is lodged, said "theek hai" (alright) when the judge read out the sentence and asked the gangster if he wanted to say anything.
This is the first major conviction for Rajan, once a dreaded underworld don of Mumbai, since his deportation to India from Indonesia in 2015 following his arrest at the Bali airport.
Earlier last year, Rajan was convicted by a court in Delhi and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment in a fake passport case.
Vora broke down in the court soon after her acquittal was announced by the judge. She was Deputy Chief of Bureau of The Asian Age newspaper at the time of Dey's murder and was arrested in November 2011 under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) on charges of supplying licence plate number of the motorcycle and address of J Dey to Rajan.
She was accused of having spoken to Rajan over phone before the crime. She was granted bail in 2012 after the court observed that she was a single parent and had no previous criminal record.
According to the prosecution, the killing was carried out at the behest of Rajan, who was purportedly 'unhappy' with the negative reports that Dey had been writing on his health and his diminishing clout in the underworld.
The prosecution earlier demanded the maximum punishment for the convicts, saying that J Dey was a journalist, who represented the fourth pillar of democracy.
One of the accused, Vinod Asrani, died after prolonged illness in 2015, pending trial.