The Allahabad High Court has acquitted a murder convict after spending nearly 14 years in jail. The convict had been undergoing life imprisonment.
The division bench of Justice Manoj Mishra and Justice S.K. Pachori passed this judgment while hearing a criminal appeal filed by Mukesh Tiwari and others.
The appeals were filed against the order passed by Special Judge/Additional Sessions Judge, Ballia, on February 28, 2009 which the appellants Indrajit Mishra, Sanjit Mishra and Mukesh Tiwari have been convicted for the offences punishable under Section 452, 302 read with Section 34 IPC.
The FIR lodged by Manorama Devi is that she and her husband Pratap Shankar Mishra were sleeping in a room of their house on the intervening night of July 29-30, 2007.
Her brothers, Ajit Narayan Pathak and Lalit Narayan Pathak, were also sleeping in the courtyard at that time. At around 2 am, she woke up hearing a rattle upon entry of persons in her room.
At that time, the door was open and a lantern was lit. She saw the appellants Indrajit Mishra with a hockey stick, Sanjit Mishra with a knife and Mukesh Tiwari with a katta in their hand. Indrajit Mishra attacked her husband with a hockey stick. Her husband got up from the cot and tried to run towards the courtyard but Indrajit Mishra and Sanjit Mishra caught him at the door of the room and Mukesh Tiwari shot at point-blank range on his neck, her husband fell down after receiving firearm injury. Ajit Narayan Pathak and Lalit Narayan woke up on hearing her cries.
They tried to catch the appellants, but they fled by jumping over the boundary wall. The injured was taken to the hospital, where he died. Due to enmity between the appellants and her husband, on account of Civil and Criminal litigation as well as a family partition, her husband was killed.
The injured Pratap Shankar Mishra was brought from the spot to District Hospital Ballia. In the District Hospital, at about 3:50 a.m., he succumbed to the injuries.
The First Information Report dated July 30, 2005 was registered case under section 302 I.P.C. against the appellants at Police Station-Reoti, District Ballia, by Deo Nath Singh on the basis of a written complaint of Manorama Devi which was scribed by Ajit Narayan Pathak. The distance between the place of occurrence and the Police Station is 1/2 Km.
The trial Court observed that though the investigating officer mentioned the name of Udit Narayan in case diary in place of Lalit Narayan but since Manorama Devi had clearly stated that Lalit Narayan and Ajit Narayan were sleeping at her house on the night of the incident, the accused persons cannot get the benefit of the error made by the investigating officer.
Thus, by placing reliance on the testimony of Manorama Devi, the trial Court concluded that the prosecution successfully proved the charges against the appellants under Section 452, 302 read with Section 34 I.P.C., beyond all reasonable doubt and thereby convicted and sentenced the appellants as above.
The Counsel for the appellants vehemently urged that Manorama Devi and Ajit Narayan Pathak had not seen the incident. The presence of alleged eyewitnesses and at the time of the incident is highly doubtful and unbelievable because at the time of the incident Manorama Devi and Ajit Narayan Pathak were present in Village Shivpur, both of them were informed and called by the Police after the death of injured Pratap Shankar Mishra, and it is for this reason that the FIR has been lodged after 3.20 hours.
This delay is fatal to the prosecution, particularly, because the distance between the place of the incident and the Police Station is only 1/2 Km.
Counsel for the appellants further submitted that there are material contradictions/omissions in the oral testimony of Manorama Devi and Ajit Narayan Pathak with regard to their presence at the time of the incident.
There is a contradiction in the testimony of C.P Kanhaiya Yadav and S.I. Hasmat Khan in respect of the presence of eye witnesses.
Though appellants persons were alleged to have been recognized in the light of the lantern, but the lantern was not recovered by the investigating officer.
A.G.A. submitted that Manorama Devi and her cousin Ajit Narayan Pathak had recognized the appellants in the light of the lantern as well as in full moonlight and the accused persons were known to Manorama Devi and Ajit Narayan Pathak even before the incident.
On the basis of the facts and circumstances discussed above, an inference can easily be drawn that this is a case of blind murder, no one actually witnessed the incident and the FIR was lodged on the basis of guess-work and suspicion and the appellants have been implicated on account of suspicion because of the previous enmity.
“For all the reasons recorded and discussed above, we are of the considered view that the prosecution has failed to prove the charge of offences punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 and Section 452 IPC against the appellants Indrajit Mishra, Sanjit Mishra and Mukesh Tiwari beyond reasonable doubt. As the evidence on record does not bring home the guilt of the appellants Indrajit Mishra, Sanjit Mishra and Mukesh Tiwari, beyond the pale of doubt, the appellants are entitled to the benefit of doubt. Consequently, the appellants are entitled to be acquitted of all the charges for which they were tried,”
-the Court said.
The appellants are acquitted of all the charges for which they have been tried. The appellants Indrajit Mishra, Sanjit Mishra are on bail, therefore, their personal bonds and sureties are hereby discharged.
“The appellant Mukesh Tiwari is in jail. He shall be set at liberty forthwith if not required in connection with any other case. The appellants Indrajit Mishra, Sanjit Mishra and Mukesh Tiwari will fullfill the requirement of section 437-A Cr.P.C. to the satisfaction of the trial Court at the earliest,”
-the Court order read.