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Supreme Court today enlarged Santosh Meena and other petitioners convicted for murder, kidnapping for murder and criminal conspiracy on grounds that they had undergone sentence for 12 years and they have challenged their convictions.

The appeals were listed before a Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman,  K.M. Joseph and V. Ramasubramanian only for interim relief, that is, for hearing of bail application.

The High Court had based the convictions solely on circumstantial evidence as there were no eye witnesses and a chronology of events has been deduced on material facts of the case. In fact, one of the accused persons was acquitted by the High Court as his involvement bordered on the realm of suspicion only and he was given the benefit of doubt.

High Court noted the facts of the case – on 16.08.2007 at around 12’O clock, deceased Gullu @ Ramswaroop was called by his neighbours Ravinder Singh and Amolak Singh to go to Village Chhanera and when the deceased Ramswaroop @ Gullu did not return till the afternoon, his wife Smt. Rekha Prajapati tried to call him on mobile phone but as the same was switched off, she also called accused Ravinder Singh Saluja on his mobile phone. Accused Ravinder Singh initially said that he is coming with Gullu but later on said he is not coming with him and since the deceased did not return by the evening, hence Smt. Rekha Prajapati lodged a complaint. During the course of investigation, Station House Officer N.S. Rawat on 19.08.2007 recovered a dead body from beneath a culvert (Pulia), which was subsequently identified as of deceased Ramswaroop. Initially the charge sheet was filed against the accused Santosh Meena, Anand Tiwari, Santosh Gupta @ Michael and Gajanand @ Gajju and accused Ravinder Singh who was subsequently arrested, hence a separate trial was initiated, which was merged in ST No.230/2007.

No direct evidence existed on record against the appellants to connect them with the alleged offence. The prosecution however presented enough circumstantial evidence to secure the convictions in the trial courts and High Court.

Under these circumstances, Supreme Court found it just to grant them bail while appeal matter was still pending before the bench.

–India Legal Bureau

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