March 11, 2021 3:17:20 am
A SESSIONS court in Mahisagar district on Wednesday convicted 22 of 56 persons accused in a 2016 case of assault and attempt to murder of a police Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Devendrasinh Rathod, which had ultimately resulted in the victim’s death. The district police investigating the case, however, did not revise the IPC section of 307 of an attempt to murder to try the accused of ‘murder’, thus the case was tried for ‘attempt to murder’.
In its verdict on Wednesday, the Mahisagar sessions court sentenced 21 accused, Dhira Khant, Bharu Khant, Lala Khant, Mangal Khant, Rama Khant, Bhula Patel, Ranchhod Veera Patel, Ranchhod Khema Patel, Rakesh Kuber Patel, Natha Veera Patel, Khantu Lakshman Khant, Bhula Mana Khant, Sardar Khula Khant, Lala Koya Khant, Mora Soma Khant, Lala Dhula Khant, Dahya Patel, Lala Natha Patel, Shana Shankar Patel, Lala Hira Patel, Mukesh Natha Patel, Kiran Sukha Khant, Mawa Veera Patel and Rakesh Deva Khant, to a total of five years imprisonment under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. The sentence includes concurrent imprisonment for different sections. While one accused Kuber Parma Patel was sentenced to three years in prison on humanitarian grounds since he is 70 years old. All accused have been slapped with a fine of Rs 20500 each, failing which, their sentence will be extended by one month, above the five years.
The incident occurred on March 23, 2016, around 11 pm in the Nana Vadala village of Mahisagar district. A patrol team of the district police, which had been assigned law and order duties owing to the ongoing celebrations of Holi that year, arrived in the village as part of patrolling. According to the police case, a group of people, comprising the accused, was seated at a junction in the village and most of the men were armed with sticks and other weapons of assault. When the police officers questioned them about the assembly and weapons, they engaged in a verbal argument and soon began assaulting the police personnel, police have said. The accused further assaulted the victim ASI Rathod by causing a fracture to his legs and hands and thereafter inflicting head injuries by breaking coconuts on his head, which were being used for the Holi bonfire celebrations. The accused then threw the sticks used for the assault into the bonfire and escaped, police said.
A total of 56 accused were booked under IPC sections 332 for voluntarily causes hurt to any person being a public servant in the discharge of his duty as such public, 326 for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, 333 for voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty, 307 for an attempt to murder, 143 for unlawful assembly, 147 for rioting, 149 for unlawful assembly guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of a common object, 504 for intentional insults and provocation, intending to break the public peace and 201 for colluding to help offender in the disappearance of evidence despite knowing that an offence has been committed as well as Section 135 of Gujarat Police Act for disobedience of police order.
The injured officer was rushed to a hospital, where he underwent treatment for a few weeks and passed away about a month later, according to local police officers. However, the Lunavada police station, which had registered the first offence of the assault and attempts to murder did not revise the section to IPC 302 (culpable homicide amounting to murder) or 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), nor was the court apprised about the death of the victim.
Government-appointed public prosecutor S R Damor, who argued the case on Wednesday told The Indian Express, “It was a mistake on part of the police that they did not file a revision application to bring to the notice of the court, right in the beginning about the death of the victim. The case continued to be tried under the Section of an attempt to murder (307) and assault when, in fact, the victim was dead long ago. We got a conviction for 22 of the 56 accused as there was enough evidence to prove the murderous assault. If the police had revised the section, we would have been able to ensure a stricter punishment and sentence for the accused.”
Damor added that the prosecution could not ‘recommend’ to the police to add the relevant section. “The prosecutor can only argue the case the way it has been admitted in court. The police should have intimated the court with a fresh application right after the victim died in 2016. The then prosecutor would have begun arguments on strong ground. As it is since the accused had destroyed the sticks use for assault and other items used in the attack, the weapons were never found for evidence,” Damor said.
The case was investigated by the Deputy Superintendent of Police of the SC/ST Cell of Mahisagar district police. The police summary stated that the accused assaulted the victim, Devendrasinh, with sticks and other grievous weapons while also hurling casteist abuses at him and obstructing him from performing his duty as a government officer. The police had also booked the accused for unlawful assembly as well as participating in crime for common intention.
Mahisagar District Superintendent of Police R P Barot did not respond to calls and text messages seeking a response from the police department.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.