A sessions court here awarded life imprisonment to two persons today in the 2012 murder case of budding actor Meenakshi Thapa.
Additional Sessions Judge S G Shette awarded the sentence to Amit Jaiswal (36) and his girlfriend Preeti Surin (26).
The court had convicted them on Wednesday under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 364-A (kidnapping for ransom).
“The prosecution had sought harshest punishment for Jaiswal and Surin. However, the judge observed that it was not the rarest of rare case and also the convicts have dependents on them. The court sentenced them to life imprisonment,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.
According to the prosecution, Jaiswal and Surin, both hailing from Uttar Pradesh, had befriended Thapa (26) on the sets of “Heroine”, a Bollywood film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar.
Both the accused used to work as model coordinators. Under the impression that the actor belonged to a rich family, the duo had hatched a conspiracy to abduct her and demand a Rs 15-lakh ransom from her family.
The duo had also persuaded the actor, who had moved to Mumbai from Dehradun only two months ago, to accompany them to Uttar Pradesh on March 12, 2012, stating that there was an acting assignment for her. Subsequently, they had abducted her, but after realising that her family was in no position to pay up, they strangulated her, according to the prosecution.
The remains of the actor’s body, with the head severed, were found in the sewage tank of a house in Allahabad a month after the incident.
The duo had come under the lens of the police as Thapa was last seen with them. Call details and other evidence had confirmed their involvement, a Crime Branch official had said.
A month after her murder, Jaiswal and Surin were arrested when they were withdrawing money, using Thapa’s debit card, from an ATM in suburban Bandra.