The Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the life imprisonment awarded to a convict Abdul Rauf Dawood Merchant for the sensational daylight murder of music baron and T-Series owner Gulshan Kumar, near a temple 24 years ago.
The court also confirmed the acquittal of TIPS company co-founder Ramesh Taurani but set aside the lower court’s order acquitting Merchant’s brother, Abdul Rashid Dawood Merchant, and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment, said the Merchant brothers’ lawyer Satish Maneshinde.
A division bench comprising Justice Sadhana Jadhav and Justice N.R. Borkar found the Merchant siblings guilty of murder, conspiracy, common intentions and under the Arms Act.
“The appellant (Abdul Rauf) should not be entitled to remission if any. He has criminal antecedents and continued in similar activities thereafter. In the interest of justice and society at large, the appellant doesn’t deserve any leniency,” the court observed.
The court further noted that soon after the 1997 incident, Abdul Rauf was absconding till his arrest in 2001, and later released on furlough in 2009 and re-arrested in 2016.
The court’s order came in the Maharashtra Government’s appeal through the state counsel Prajakta Shinde against Taurani and Abdul Rashid’s acquittal, and Abdul Rauf’s appeal against his conviction and life sentence.
The prosecution contended that the killing was an outcome of business rivalries between Kumar and Taurani, and a rift between Kumar and music director Nadeem Saifi — of the erstwhile Nadeem-Shravan duo.
As part of the differences, Saifi allegedly hired gangster Abu Salem of the Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar gang to eliminate Kumar, but sneaked away to London in June 1997 and has not returned since, while his partner Shravan Rathod died in April 2021.