The Supreme Court has set aside the sentence of life imprisonment on two people in an alleged case of assault which had resulted in the death of two persons; the dispute had been over land, specifically related to the construction of a hut.
The three-judge bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose observed that the depositions of the eyewitnesses for the prosecution broadly gives the description of events that corresponds with the fardbeyan, but there are discrepancies on the role of each of the accused persons in effecting specific strikes on the victims individually.
The bench further held,
“As all the eyewitnesses were related to the victims, but for that very reason we cannot disbelieve their version, particularly since the Trial Court and the High Court found no reason to reject their evidence.”
After going through all the facts presented and arguments made the Court has observed,
“The depositions of the prosecution witnesses are not uniform on the aspect of the role of the appellants in assaulting Anil and Jatu. The Trial Court and the High Court had not rightly concluded on involvement of Mihir and Prabhat in assault of Anil and Jatu so as to implicate them for murder under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the code.”
The Court has further observed that,
“the eye witnesses’ accounts shows element of exaggeration and inconsistency in implicating both Mihir and Prabhat for their strikes on Jatu. There is apparent inconsistency in the eyewitness account in describing the assaults by these two appellants on Anil and Jatu. PW2 has attributed assault on both Anil and Jatu to Manohar and all his sons.”
The Court also found that though there were assaults by Manohar, Mihir and Prabhat, prosecution has failed to establish on the basis of evidence that these two appellants shared common intention with Manohar. Their strikes on the victims can be segregated from those made by Manohar, as it transpires from evidence. Neither Mihir nor Prabhat could be held to have been involved in assault on Anil and Jatu, which forms the basis of conviction of the appellants under Section 302 of the Code.
Accordingly, the Court has set aside the judgment of conviction of Mihir and Prabhat under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Code along with other sentences. The appellants are accordingly acquitted of charges under all the aforesaid provisions and held guilty of committing offence under Section 324 of the Code. The Court imposed a sentence of three years rigorous imprisonment on both Mihir and Prabhat for committing offence under the aforesaid provision.
The appellants Mihir Gope and Prabhat Gope have been held guilty by the Trial Court (Additional Sessions Judge, Fast Track CourtIV, Bokaro) for committing offences under Sections 341, 307, 325, and 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The Trial Court sentenced the appellants to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life for committing offence under Section 302 of the Code, simple imprisonment for a month in relation to offence under Section 341 of the Code, rigorous imprisonment for 5 years for offence under Section 325 of the Code, and rigorous imprisonment for 7 years for offence under Section 307 of IPC.
Against the judgement passed by the Trial Court the appellants move to the High Court, in appeals and the High Court had sustained the judgment of conviction and orders of sentences of these two appellants.
In the present case Anil Mahto and Jatu Mahto had died from injuries received in consequence of assaults on them on 20th August, 2005 over a land related dispute. The appellants are two sons of one Manohar Gope, with whom the dispute had arisen. The cause of the dispute with the members of the deceased victims’ family is specifically related to the construction of a hut.
Manohar and his three sons, Mihir, Prabhat and Kailash were named as accused persons in the First Information Report. After investigation, chargesheet was submitted arraigning four of them as also Usha Devi (wife of Mihir), as accused persons. The judgment of conviction of Usha Devi was set aside by the High Court on 10th October, 2018. As Kailash is minor, his records were sent to the Juvenile Justice Board and rest four were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment by the Trial Court.Mihir-Gope-etc.