The Supreme Court has refused to stay the release of former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi, who was convicted in the sensational 2003 murder of poet Madhumita Shukla and is to be released from jail. Tripathi and his wife, also to be released, have been serving a life term since 2007 but will be freed on the basis of ‘good conduct’ in prison, the UP government said in its order.
Ms Shukla’s sister had appealed the release of Tripathi and his wife. The Supreme Court, while declining to interfere in Tripathi’s release, has sought a reply from the UP government in eight weeks.
UP Prisons Minister Dharamveer Prajapati had earlier said, “Such releases happen on basis of how prisoners conduct themselves in jail. Files are moved and acted upon only after orders from the Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) and Governor (Anandiben Patel). This is how things are progressing.”
Then a minister in Mayawati’s government, Tripathi was seen as the Bahujan Samaj Party boss’ right-hand man and had initially claimed he had nothing to do with the gruesome killing.
His denials were up-ended, though, after a DNA test by the Central Bureau of Investigation indicated the child Ms Shukla was carrying when she was shot dead was his.
Ms Shukla’s Family, Others Respond
Ms Shukla’s sister has refused to comment on Tripathi’s release beyond stating the Governor must have “taken a call based on government files”. “Cannot comment on the Governor’s decision but I can say that the Governor takes a call based on government files and does so after deep contemplation.”
The Samajwadi Party has also questioned Tripathi’s release and has mocked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, claiming he is being released as the BJP “needs” him for next year’s election.
*Under what rules are Amarmani Tripathi and his wife being released? It seems BJP’s Yogi – Modi model has become stale, so they need Amarmani. They may even end up needing Mukhtar Ansari. In fact, I am sure, whichever criminal in jail BJP needs for 2024 election, all will be bailed out,” SP spokesperson Manoj Yadav said.
What Was The Madhumita Shukla Murder Case?
Madhumita Shukla, a fiery poet, was murdered on May 9, 2003. Her body was found at her home in Lucknow’s Nishatganj area. Ms Shukla was 24 years old and allegedly Tripathi’s lover.
Amarmani Tripathi was then a four-time MLA with links to various political parties and a great deal of influence, which was why the Supreme Court transferred the case from Lucknow to Dehradun after Ms Shukla’s family feared Tripathi may interfere with the judicial process.
Ms Shukla was pregnant when she died and the father was said to be Tripathi, something confirmed after forensics examinations by the CBI. However, such was Tripathi’s unsavoury influence then that few dared speak against him, never mind make such serious allegations.
Speaking to NDTV in October 2007, Ms Shukla’s sister seemed to emphasise the fear Amarmani Tripathi evoked, “He is not an ordinary person. That is all I can say.” When asked if she was scared of Tripathi, she said, “We can’t say anything else about the case at this point.”
Ms Shukla’s sister also spoke of “never-ending” threats against the family, stating these continued even after the case was transferred out of UP and to neighbouring Uttarakhand.
However, Tripathi, also speaking to NDTV, insisted he was innocent. “My family and I have nothing to do with this incident,” he said.
How Did The Investigation Play Out?
The BSP chief initially ordered an inquiry by the police’s Criminal Investigation Department but after an appeal by Madhumita Shukla‘s mother the case was handed to the CBI.
“Yes, she (Mayawati) rang up. My mother said, ‘If you put the CBI on the case, the truth will come out. She said, ‘OK. I will think about it’,” Ms Shukla’s sister told NDTV.
The CBI was finally called in and arrested Amarmani Tripathi in September 2003. However, he was released on bail by the Allahabad High Court just seven months later.
Still searching for justice, Madhumita Shukla’s family then went public with their allegations and appealed to the Supreme Court, which transferred the case to Dehradun and ordered daily hearings.
The case was over in less than six months. The prosecution produced 79 witnesses, of whom 12 recanted testimonies, while Amarmani Tripathi produced just four.
Amarmani Tripathi, his wife Madhumani and two others – Rohit Chaturvedi and Santosh Kumar Rai – were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Dehradun court.
Five years later the Uttarakhand High Court upheld the sentence given to all four.
With input from agencies