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Friday, January 21, 2022

Bombay HC rejects govt’s appeal against 2001 acquittal of murder accused

The Ratnagiri sessions court in January 2001 had acquitted the accused of murder charges, after the police failed to provide sufficient and convincing evidence to prove the claims of another minor, who witnessed to the murder.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: December 27, 2021 11:57:13 am
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice S P Tavade delivered the verdict in state's appeal against the acquittal of the man from Ratnagiri.

THE BOMBAY High Court recently dismissed an appeal by the state government, which had challenged the acquittal of a man from Ratnagiri district, who was booked for murder of a minor girl in July 1994, due to an alleged family dispute. The Ratnagiri sessions court in January 2001 had acquitted the accused of murder charges, after the police failed to provide sufficient and convincing evidence to prove the claims of another minor, who witnessed to the murder.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice S P Tavade delivered the verdict in state’s appeal against the acquittal of the man from Ratnagiri. On July 13, 1994, around noon, the deceased minor girl, along with her friend had gone to graze the family cattle nearby their village, and the 23-year-old accused was also grazing his cattle close-by. When a bull belonging to the deceased strayed, she went looking for it. As the weather was windy and rainy, and when the minor did not return, her friend went looking for her and saw the accused assaulting her with a scythe. The friend then ran to minor’s house and brought her parents to the spot, who later found their daughter dead in a pool of blood and the accused had fled.

The trial court had noted that the delay in recording the statement of the deceased’s friend belatedly after more than 22 hours from the time of incident would cast doubt about the claim of the prosecution that she had actually witnessed the incident. Moreover, the court found that statement of accused wherein he allegedly admitted to have murdered her was not admissible and the investigating officer failed to explain about “serious lacunae” in the probe.

Additional Public Prosecutor S S Hulke said the trial court has failed to consider the evidence adduced by the prosecution in proper perspective and erred in acquitting the accused, therefore the impugned order be reversed and the accused be dealt with in accordance with law. Hulke said that even though the investigating agency had given evidence in the form of weapon used in the murder and blood-stained clothes of accused besides the statement of the star witness and the accused himself, the sessions judge acquitted the accused, prompting police to approach the high court.

Advocates Atal Bihari Dubey and Rahul Mishra for the accused justified trial court order and said that no interference be called for and appeal be dismissed. After perusing submissions, the bench observed, “On the whole, the prosecution case suffers from inadequacies and also from a clear, cogent and clinching evidence to reverse the order of acquittal by the trial Court. The findings recorded by the trial Court appears to be in consonance with the evidence on record

The bench while dismissing the appeal added, “The order of acquittal passed by the trial Court is of 11th January, 2001. We are hearing this Appeal in the year 2021 and in absence of clear, cogent and convincing evidence on record, we are unable to persuade ourselves to accept the prosecution case and reverse the finding of acquittal.”

It held, “The order of acquittal passed by the trial Court is of 11th January, 2001. We are hearing this Appeal in the year 2021 and in absence of clear, cogent and convincing evidence on record, we are unable to persuade ourselves to accept the prosecution case and reverse the finding of acquittal. The appeal filed by the State shall fail and accordingly, the same stands dismissed.”

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