A special CBI court in Gujarat on July 11 awarded life imprisonment to former BJP parliamentarian Dinu Solanki and six others in the Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa murder case.

The court said the murder was a premeditated act and convicted Mr. Solanki and the others for criminal conspiracy and murder.

Earlier on July 6, the court had found Solanki, his nephew Shiva Solanki and five others guilty of murdering Jethwa in 2010.

In July 2010, Jethwa was killed outside the Gujarat High Court as he was fighting against illegal mining activities in and around Gir forest, the abode of Asiatic lions in Gujarat, where Solanki and his extended family have interests in limestone mining. Jethwa had filed a Public Interest Litigation petition in the High Court against illegal mining in the Gir forest region.

“The court today has held seven people, including the mining mafia and former BJP parliamentarian Dinu Solanki, guilty in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa,” said noted lawyer Anand Yagnik, who has been fighting the case on behalf of Bhikhabhai Jethwa, father of the deceased.

The probe was handed over to the Central agency by the Gujarat High Court after the State police had given a clean chit to the then parliamentarian Solanki.

Solanki was arrested in 2013 from Delhi and chargesheeted in the murder case. The CBI had accused Solanki as the main conspirator.

Besides Solanki, his nephew Shiva has also been held guilty, along with five others, including sharp shooter Shailash Pandya.

The court held Solanki, Shiva Solanki and the five others guilty on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

In May 2016, the court had framed charges of murder and criminal conspiracy against Solanki and others after the Central agency had chargesheeted them.

The Jethwa murder case saw many twists and turns from the beginning as a high-profile politician was involved. Earlier, the probe conducted by the Gujarat police originally and the one conducted by the CBI subsequently were clubbed together and the case was committed for trial.

However, during the trial, several witnesses turned hostile, prompting Bhikhabhai to move the High Court seeking fresh trial on the ground that 105 out of 195 witnesses had turned hostile in the case. Advocate Anand Yagnik had submitted in the High Court that the witnesses turned hostile owing to pressure exerted on them by Solanki and others.

The High Court first stayed the trial and later ordered a fresh trial in an unprecedented order. Moreover, the court also directed to replace the then special judge Dinesh L. Pate, who was conducting the trial.
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