GURGAON: Thirteen workers convicted of the murder of a general manager during the labour unrest at Maruti’s Manesar plant in 2012 were sentenced to life imprisonment by a city court on Saturday after a trial that lasted nearly five years.
The court of additional and sessions judge Rajendra Pal Goel had pronounced 31 of the 148 workers who had stood trial guilty on March 10. Of the 18 others who were convicted of rioting but not murder, four were jailed for five years. The rest 14 were given three-year jail terms and released later in the day from Gurgaon’s Bhondsi jail after paying fines of Rs 2,000 each as they had already spent that time in prison. The four workers sen tenced to five years need to serve around a year more in jail.
The defence said it would challenge the sentences in the Punjab and Haryana high court. The murder charges relate to the death of Awanish Kumar Dev, general manager (HR), who died during violence and arson at the plant on July 18, 2012. The court had on March 10 acquitted 117 workers for lack of evidence.
Special public prosecutor Anurag Hooda said, “The four people who were on the first floor where the general manag er died due to the fire were awarded five years’ imprisonment.” Gurgaon district attorney Lal Singh Yadav said the 2012 violence had brought a bad name to the city and damaged investor sentiment. “The judgment has given a message to society that such incidents are not acceptable,” said Yadav.
Vrinda Grover, who was representing the workers, said the court dismissed the argument of the prosecution seeking the death penalty on the ground that the case cannot be classified as the rarest of the rare. “We will file an appeal against the convictions before the Punjab and Haryana high court. We are confident of securing justice from the superior court. There is no evidence to link the involvement of the workers to the murder and it is important to remember that all those who have been convicted were union leaders.Therefore, it is clear case of `target-framing’ of these workers in the case,” Grover said.
That is a fair verdict,but did the real culprits get caught,what about the union leaders who was behind these,,,,,Tom Godwin Diwan
On the acquittal of 117 workers, she said the court upheld the defence’s argument that there was no legal ground on which they were charged.”These workers were illegally implicated in the case,” the defence counsel said. On July 18, 2012, violence at the plant started after a heated row, purportedly over “discipli nary issues”, leading to the suspension of Jia Lal, one of those awarded the life term.Maruti sacked 540 of its 1,500 permanent workers and 2,000 contractual staff after the violence.
The Maruti workers’ union claimed a supervisor had abused and made discriminatory comments against a Dalit worker, leading to the violence. Dev was found burned beyond recognition after a part of the factory was torched. He was identified from a tooth implant. Maruti shut down its Manesar plant for a month after the row.