HC gives benefit of doubt to 4; clears them of dacoity, murder

Granting benefit of doubt, the Bombay High Court has quashed the life sentence given to four watchmen of a plastic production unit for committing dacoity at the facility and murdering its owner eight years ago.

In a recent judgement, a bench of justices P V Hardas and A R Joshi, while acquitting the four, observed that the prosecution had miserably failed to establish the offence against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

“In cases resting on circumstantial evidence, it is incumbent for the prosecution to prove each and every circumstance on which it proposes to rely. The circumstances, so proved, should be of incriminating nature and have a definite tendency of implicating the accused,” according to the bench.

The circumstances, so proved, should form a complete chain which should exclude every hypothesis of the innocence of the accused and unerringly point to his guilt. In other words, chain of circumstances should be so complete as to lead to an inference that it is the accused, and the accused alone, who has committed the offence, the Judges noted.

“In this case, we find that the prosecution has not been able to establish a complete chain of circumstantial evidence which would exclude every hypothesis of the innocence of the accused. The chain of circumstantial evidence falls short of leading to an inference that it is the accused who have committed the crime. In the circumstances, the appellants are entitled to be given the benefit of doubt,” they observed.

The HC allowed the appeals and quashed the conviction of Dharam Singh, Tejasingh Bahadur, Tulai Kalu Singh and Meenbahadur Singh, who were awarded life sentence by the trial court for committing dacoity at Jaisingh Plastic Industry in suburban Andheri and murdering their employer Jamnadas Jaisingh on August 4, 2004.

Jamnadas stayed on upper floor of the factory with his family. The Judges observed that Maya, the mentally challenged daughter of the deceased, who was in the house when the victim was found lying dead, was not examined as an eyewitness.

Also, she had not disclosed to police the names of the accused whom she knew as the watchmen of the business premises owned by her father, they further noted.

 

PTI

Gangrape case: Supreme Court defers hearing over counsel row

A day after two lawyers appeared before the Supreme Court claiming to represent one of the six accused in the December 16 gangrape case, the sessions Judge has been asked by the court conducting the trial to find out who the actual counsel was and if he wanted to pursue the case for transferring the trial to a court outside Delhi.

A bench headed by chief justice Altamas Kabir adjourned the hearing after the advocates indulged in verbal dual and began making claims and counterclaims for representing accused Mukesh. Refusing to hear the case, the sessions judge has been asked by the Supreme Court bench to find out who the accused’s actual counsel was.

As soon as advocate ML Sharma, who claimed to have filed the plea on behalf of accused Mukesh to seek transfer of trial to Mathura in UP on the ground of prejudice and charged atmosphere, started arguments, another lawyer VK Anand objected saying Sharma was no more associated with the case.

It was then that the Supreme Court bench asked the advocate-on-record to appear before it at noon to find out the truth. When the matter was again taken up after lunch, Anand did a U-turn, saying he has been authorised by the accused to represent him only in the trial court.

Sharma then alleged that Mukesh is being tortured by the police and Anand was trying to create hindrance in hearing of the transfer plea in the gangrape case in which arguments on charges will commence from Thursday.

The court then directed the sessions judge to talk to Mukesh and find out the truth behind these allegations and posted the matter for hearing on January 30.

Mukesh, who along with four others, has been charged with murder, gangrape and unnatural offences, has alleged that in view of regular agitations, police and judicial officials are under pressure to pass orders according to the demands of the agitators and hence, a fair hearing is not possible. “The sentiment has gone into the root of each home in Delhi by which even the judicial officers and the state are not spared and in these circumstances, he cannot get justice in Delhi at all,” Mukesh’s plea said.

Besides Mukesh, bus driver Ram Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur, have been charged with offences of murder, gangrape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, dacoity, hurting in committing robbery, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and common intention under IPC. Their sixth accomplice is a juvenile and is being tried separately before the Juvenile Justice Board.

Judicial custody of Namdhari, others extended

The judicial custody of sacked Uttarakhand minority panel chief S S Namdhari and nine others, arrested for their alleged roles in the murder of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother in a shootout, was extended till Friday by a Delhi court.

By a day the judicial custody of Namdhari has been extended by the Metropolitan Magistrate Anu Aggarwal, his PSO Sachin Tyagi and eight others after they appeared in the court through video conference.

Their judicial custody was extended for a day only as the investigating officer (IO) could not reach the concerned court in time and reached it only after it had risen for the day.

The IO accordingly had to appear before the court of Duty Magistrate Aggarwal before which the accused were produced through video conferencing.

The court extended the judicial custody of accused Bhupender Singh, Uday Raj Singh, Rajpal Singh, Anand Singh Bisht, Mathura Singh Mehra and Satnam Singh, who are Ponty’s aides.

It has also extended the judicial custody for Namdhari’s men Simranjeet Singh and Jagbir Singh custody till Friday.

The Crime Branch of Delhi Police had booked Namdhari for allegedly killing Ponty Chadha’s younger brother Hardeep.

Tyagi, a constable with Uttarakhand Police since 2005 and deployed as Namdhari’s PSO since January 2012, was also arrested for his alleged role in the crime.

Ponty and Hardeep, who had an ongoing property dispute, were killed in a shootout at their Chattarpur farmhouse in New Delhi on November 17 afternoon, after which the police has arrested altogether ten persons including Tyagi and Namdhari in various criminal cases linked to the incident.

All the ten accused have been booked for allegedly committing offences of hatching criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder, dacoity, assault, Arms Act, destruction of evidence, trespass, illegal confinement and kidnapping.

The police, however, has booked Namdhari on charges of murder. The police had told the court that from the probe, it has been established that Namdhari has played a vital role in the conspiracy with other co-accused, who acted on his orders.

The police had also told the court that during the probe, Tyagi had disclosed about his involvement in the conspiracy of trespass and that he along with Namdhari, had shot at Hardeep as per a plan hatched earlier among him, Namdhari and Ponty.

It had said Namdhari had brought with him a number of associates armed with weapons, hockey sticks and baseball bats to facilitate forcible possession of the Chattarpur farmhouse.

Namdhari’s associates help him run his various businesses in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab.

In this regard two criminal cases, one of forcible dispossession of the farm house in which Hardeep was murdered and the other of murder of Ponty, were registered by the police.

Earlier, the court had also issued non bailable warrants against eight men, all belonging to Bareilly, for January 28 after the Crime Branch had submitted to it that they were still on run and were wanted for their alleged roles in killings of Ponty and Hardeep.

The eight against whom the NBWs were issued are Hardayal Singh, Satnam Singh, Baj Singh, Balkar Singh, Pargat Singh, Kulbir Singh, Bakshish Singh and Dharmender.