A bench of Justices P C Ghose and Ashok Bhushan said the homicidal death has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt with the recovery of the weapon which was a “sharp knife” and the high court order did not call for any interference.
“The fact that the accused had been identified and recovery made from accused no.1 has left no room for doubt that all the appellants were involved in the commission of the murder with the common object to do away the deceased…
“We are of the view that the present appeal is devoid of merits and we, therefore, do not find any reason to interfere with the order of the high court. Hence, the appeal is dismissed,” the bench said.
On July 4, 2009, five persons had barged into the house of Rameshbhai Prajapti, a taluka president of Shiv Sena when he was sleeping with his wife and children, and had assaulted him with the knife inflicting grievous injuries in his neck.
The whole incident was witnessed by Prajapati’s wife as she woke up after hearing the noise and saw the men escape from the spot.
The trial court in 2010 convicted four persons including Soyebbhai Yusufbhai Bharania who had led the group and awarded them life sentence while holding them guilty for murder and rioting. It has said that the younger brother of the victim had got married to a woman hailing from a particular community despite protest by the men.
The trial court, however, had given benefit of doubt to Umarbhai, one of the five men, and acquitted him.
The four convicts had challenged the verdict of the trial court in the Gujarat High Court which had upheld the life sentence given to three persons and acquitted one of them.
The apex court, while dismissing the appeals, said that in furtherance of the common intention to kill Prajapati, the men had entered his house and they were seen by his wife.
It said that since out of the five men, two were acquitted by the trial court and the high court respectively, the charge of unlawful assembly does not meet the pre-requisite condition of a minimum of five persons.
“In our view, albeit the murder is proved but the ingredients of the unlawful assembly remained elusive, as pre-requisite condition for an unlawful assembly i.e., minimum five persons, has not been met. Nevertheless, the common object has been proved by the prosecution,” it said