Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Allahabad High Court convicts ex-MLA Mukhtar Ansari in 23-year-old case, awards 5-year imprisonment

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The Allahabad High Court has convicted former BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari in a 23-year-old case and sentenced him to five years rigorous imprisonment, besides imposing fine of Rs 50,000.

The Single-Judge Lucknow Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh passed this order on Friday, while hearing a Government Appeal filed by the State of Uttar Pradesh under Section 378 CrPC.

Justice Singh came down heavily on the Special MP/MLA Additional Sessions Judge, Lucknow, for acquitting Ansari. Stating that the gang chart was proved in the court as documentary evidence, the High Court observed that the trial court had “grossly erred” in acquitting the mafia-turned-politician. 

On April 27, 2021, the state government had challenged the December 23, 2020 order of the trial court, which acquitted Ansari under Section 2/3 of The Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.

Jail Superintendent RK Tiwari was killed in broad daylight in Hazratganj on February 4, 1999.

An FIR was lodged under Sections 302 and 307 of IPC at Hazratganj police station against Ansari and 23 others under Section 2/3 of the Gangsters Act.

A charge sheet was filed against Ansari, who was named as key conspirator in the case, and 23 other co-accused.

The FIR alleged that Ansari and other co-accused were part of a gang, which indulged in committing heinous offences, such as murder, extortion, kidnapping and abduction.

It further said that Suresh Kumar, a notorious criminal, along with his 3-4 accomplishes, was heard saying that Abhay Singh, who was imprisoned, had got jail Superintendent R.K. Tiwari killed in busy Hazratganj area of Lucknow.

The Court noted, The Trial Court, after considering the evidence on record and also taking into consideration that in all the cases, mentioned in the gang-chart, either the accused-respondent was acquitted or charge sheet was not filed or by the orders of the High Court the cases were quashed. It was said that the gang-chart was prepared earlier than the FIR was registered.It was also said that during the course of investigation, no detail of property or wealth, which was allegedly accumulated by committing crime, was given. The trial Court acquitted the accused-respondent for the offence under Section 2/3 Gangsters Act as the prosecution could not prove the offence against the accused-respondent beyond reasonable doubt.

On behalf of the appellant-State, Umesh Verma, Additional Government Advocate, along with Rao Narendra Singh, Additional Government Advocate, has submitted that the basic ingredients to prosecute an individual under the Gangsters Act for commission of an offence as gangster is him being the member of the gang. Even if no FIR is registered against a person, still he can be prosecuted for the offence under the Gangsters Act. The purpose of the Gangsters Act is to curb organized crime and criminal activities of the gang and gangsters.

Umesh Verma, Counsel for the appellant-State said that if it is proved that an accused belongs to a gang and commits offences individually or with other gang members with object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal and pecuniary material or other advantage for himself or any other member of the gang, he can be prosecuted and punished.

When a specific offence has been created in a Special Statute and the offence is covered by the Statute and fulfills the requirement as defined, he may be punished under the Gangsters Act.

On the other hand, Jyotindra Mishra, Senior Counsel, assisted by Satendra Kumar Singh, Advocate appearing for the accused-respondent, has submitted that all other members, who were named in the gang-chart, have either been acquitted or the prosecution, against them, was quashed by this Court or they were discharged.

It has been further submitted that the prosecution had failed to bring any cogent and credible evidence against any of the alleged gang-members. The trial Court has taken a correct view of acquitting the accused-respondent for the offence under Section 2/3 Gangsters Act.

“It is not in dispute that several FIRs and charge-sheets for offences, which are provided under definition clause of Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act, were registered against the accused-respondent and the charge-sheets were filed against him, including in the case of murder of Jail Superintendent of District Jail, Lucknow. Acquittal or conviction is immaterial for invoking the provisions of Gangsters Act against a person, who is otherwise a member of the gang and, allegedly commits offences, which are defined under Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act. If the FIR is registered or the charge-sheet is filed and the person is a member of a gang, which is defined under Section 2(b) Gangsters Act, it fulfills the ingredients of Section 2 of the Gangsters Act and he can be punished under Section 3 of the Gangsters Act.

The trial Court has acquitted the accused-respondent on the ground that the accused-respondent was acquitted in all the offences, which were mentioned in the gang-chart. The gang-chart was approved and the FIR came to be registered against the accused respondent along with others.

The Court is of the view, on considering the law laid down by the Supreme Court and this Court, as discussed above, and carefully reading all the provisions of the Gangsters Act, that the accused-respondent was a member of the gang and for his criminal activities several FIRs and charge-sheets came to be registered and submitted against him for offences, which are defined under Section 2/3 Gangsters Act. The acquittal of the accused respondent for turning the witness hostile or otherwise is not a material aspect. The trial Court has grossly erred in acquitting the accused-respondent vide impugned judgment and order. The gantt chart was proved in the Court as documentary evidence”, the Court observed while allowing the appeal.

In view of the foregoing discussion, the Court is of the view that the accused- respondent is a gangster and he allegedly committed several offences and, therefore, he is found guilty for offence under Section 2/3 Gangsters Act. Therefore, the order dated 23.12.2020 passed by the trial Court is hereby set-aside by the high court and the accused respondent is sentenced for five years rigorous imprisonment with fine of Rs 50,000/.

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