The owner of a four-star hotel in the city and six others were arrested today in connection with the murder of a 57-year-old estate officer of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), a day before he was scheduled to pass the final order in a case related to the hotel's lease.

The deceased, Mohammed Moin Khan, was a lawyer and an assistant legal advisor with the NDMC. The concerned hotel 'The Connaught' was functioning on a property leased by the civic body. NDMC had sealed the property last year after the hotel authorities failed to abide by the eviction order following expiry of the lease.

The other party had then taken the matter to the court, police said. On the direction of the High Court, Khan was made the Estate Officer and he was to pass the final order in the lease matter on May 17.

"Apprehending an unfavourable order, which would have resulted in huge monetary loss and eviction from the property, the hotel owner, Ramesh Kakkar, hatched the conspiracy to eliminate Khan, who was known to be straight and fair in his job," Special Commissioner of Police (Law & Order/South) P Kamaraj said.

Khan's family claimed that there was tremendous pressure on Khan from his seniors to waive the penalty of around Rs 140 crore imposed on the hotel for violation of license term, a matter which is still being probed by the police. To execute the plan, Kakkar (48) contacted Ram Phool (46), his body guard, and one Israil (31).

Both of them were bouncers at Kakkar's nightclub in Greater Kailash area, which closed down around five years ago. The contract for killing was fixed at Rs 2 lakh, of which Rs 50,000 was paid in advance. Soon, others identified as Saleem Khan, Amar Alvi, Anwar Omais and Bilal were roped in.

While six of the accused were detained last night and in the wee hours today, and later arrested, the seventh (Bilal), who was absconding, was nabbed this evening, police said. On May 16 evening, Phool and Israil followed Khan's car after he left his office and when he was about to reach home in southeast Delhi's Jamia Nagar, two motorcycle-borne youths (Anwar and Bilal) intercepted his car, broke open the window and shot him from point-blank range.

Saleem, who is a recovery agent by profession, and Amar, a known bad character in the locality, allegedly helped with the logistics and were also monitoring the execution of the plan. Police said they are investigating the matter from all angles and some NDMC officials are likely to be questioned.

Police have also come across allegations that the hotel owner had sent his "agents" to bribe the slain official but there was no evidence as yet to substantiate it.