Delhi HC sentences 16 ex-policemen to life imprisonment in 1987 Hashimpura massacre case

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sentenced 16 former policemen to life imprisonment for killing 42 people of a minority community in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel reversed a trial court’s verdict which had acquitted the accused.

The high court convicted the 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel for murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code.

It termed the massacre “targeted killing” of unarmed and defenceless persons by the police.

All the 16 convicts have retired from service.

The high court’s verdict came on pleas challenging a trial court’s decision to acquit 16 policemen of charges of murder and other crimes in the case.

The high court had on September 6 reserved its verdict on the appeals filed by Uttar Pradesh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some private parties including a survivor of the massacre, Zulfiqar Nasir.

It had also reserved its judgement on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking further probe to ascertain the alleged role of then Minister of State for Home P Chidambaram in the case.

The court had on February 17, 2016, tagged Swamy’s plea with the other petitions in the matter.

On March 21, 2015, a trial court here had acquitted the 16 former PAC personnel giving them benefit of doubt, saying their identification could not established due to lack of evidence.

Nineteen people were named as accused and charges were framed against 17 of them for offences of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy, by the court here in 2006.

The case was transferred to Delhi on a Supreme Court direction in September 2002 following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors.

Of the 17 accused, 16 were acquitted while one died during the trial.

The NHRC has intervened in the matter seeking further probe into the massacre in the Hashimpura locality of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

A trial court had on March 8, 2013, dismissed Swamy’s plea for further probe to ascertain the role of Chidambaram, who was a Union Minister between 1986 and 1989, in the incident, saying he has no locus standi and it is only the police who can move an application for further probe.

Thereafter, Swamy had approached the high court with the appeal.

Delhi HC Allows CBI to File Closure Report in Najeeb Ahmed’s Case

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday, allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)  to file a closure report in the case of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who mysteriously disappeared in October in 2016 from the campus.

A bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea while rejecting Ahmed’s mother Fatima Nafees’ habeas corpus plea for an SIT probe. Najeeb, 27, had gone missing from the Mahi-Mandvi hostel of JNU on October 15, 2016, following a scuffle with some students allegedly affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) the previous night.

The bench said Nafees, who had moved the high court in November 2016 seeking directions to the police to trace her son, “can raise all contentions available to her before the trial court” and disposed of the plea.

The counsel for Nafees had earlier said nine students were named in a complaint filed by 18 students, who were eyewitnesses to the alleged assault on Ahmed, yet they were not interrogated.

Bhima-Koregaon Case: Delhi HC ends house arrest of activist Gautam Navlakha

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday ended the house arrest of Gautam Navlakha, one of the five rights activists arrested in connection with Koregaon-Bhima case, saying his detention had exceeded 24 hours which is “untenable”.

A bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel said that the transit remand was given by the local court without compliance of mandatory provisions of the Constitution and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The high court also quashed the trial court’s transit remand order which he had challenged before the matter was taken to the apex court., saying Navlakha’s case was dealt in a cosmetic manner.

The Pune police had arrested Navlakha from Delhi last month following searches in several cities. A transit remand was also secured from Saket district court in South Delhi to take him to Pune.

The five activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha, were in jail since 29th August. The police claimed to have proof of the arrested activists’ involvement in an event called Elgaar Parishad that later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra.

HC sentences man to life term for sodomy

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sentenced a man to life imprisonment for sodomising a three-and-a half-year-old boy, observing that the child was subjected to traumatic and brutal sexual assault.

A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel dismissed the man’s appeal and upheld a trial court’s order convicting him for the offences of aggravated penetrative assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and kidnapping and wrongful confinement under the IPC.
The bench noted that the child was “too young to depose” in the court and the failure to examine him was not fatal to the prosecution’s case.

“The victim was a young three-and-a-half-year-old child and was subjected to traumatic and brutal sexual assault by the convict. In the circumstances, the court does not find any reason whatsoever to interfere with the sentence awarded to the him for the offences,” it said.
The incident took place on February 11, 2014, when the child’s father had come home to have lunch while he was playing outside his house.
When the boy did not return home for some time, he asked his wife to search for him and later lodged a missing complaint at Madhu Vihar Police Station in east Delhi.

While searching for the child, the police reached a nearby photocopy shop and on showing the boy’s photograph were told that a man had taken him to the building’s roof.

On opening the room, the police found the child along with the accused and seeing this, the agitated crowd started beating the man. Accused Vinod Soren was arrested.
In his defence, the man claimed that the boy was brought to his room by some people who assaulted him and later, police came to save him.
Soren also claimed that he had not done any wrong act with the child and had been falsely implicated.
The trial court, which had held him guilty of the offences and also imposed a fine of Rs 41,000, had directed that a compensation of Rs 7.5 lakh be paid to the victim.
The high court, while dismissing the convict’s appeal, said that the correctness of the forensic analysis report was not questioned by him and the conclusion drawn by the trial court that this was a clinching piece of evidence to connect him with the crime cannot possibly be faulted.
It noted that the victim was rescued from the convict’s room which was locked from inside and opened by him and said there was “more than adequate evidence”.

Delhi High Court : Two get seven year jail for killing momos vendor for asking money.

 The Delhi High Court has sentenced two persons to seven years in jail for killing a street vendor by hitting him with a gas cylinder after he asked them to pay for a plate of momos.

The high court, while deciding the appeals of the two men, reduced their sentence from life imprisonment awarded to them by a trial court which had convicted them for the offence of murder.

It reduced the jail term after modifying their conviction for offence of murder to causing death of a person without any intention.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta considered that both men were of young age at the time of the incident in 2012 and had no history of any criminal activity. Their conduct in the jail was also found to be satisfactory.

The court, however, maintained the conviction of Najafgarh residents Dharmendra and Jitender for the offence of attempt to murder.

It also imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 each on both convicts.

The two men were held guilty by a trial court for murdering momos vendor Monu and attempting to kill his relative Ravi who tried to save the victim.

According to the prosecution, the incident took place on January 8, 2012, when Ravi and his nephew Monu were selling momos in Najafgarh area in south west Delhi in the evening.

A man came there and ordered momos and when Monu asked for payment, he threw the plate on the victim’s face and threatened him, it had said.

After sometime, the man along with some of his associates returned to the eatery with sticks and started beating the two vendors with sticks and gas cylinder. They both fell unconscious.

While Ravi was discharged from hospital after some days, Monu succumbed to injuries.

During the trial, the accused had claimed innocence and said they were falsely implicated in the case.

While modifying the conviction, the high court noted that the attack on the two was preceded by an altercation which in turn arose as a result of the deceased demanding money for momos and that the attack was “not premeditated”.

“It was on the spur of the moment in the heat of passion. Further, it was a single blow which did not immediately result in the death of the deceased. After undergoing treatment for 15 days for the single head injury the deceased succumbed. All these factors collectively considered persuade the court to hold that the offence was one of culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” the bench said.

The court added that it cannot be said that the accused intended to kill the victim although they should be attributed the knowledge that the injury on his head with sticks would in all likelihood cause death.

Jigisha murder: HC commutes death penalty to 2 to life term

The Delhi High Court today commuted the death penalty awarded to two convicts in the 2009 Jigisha Ghosh murder case to life imprisonment.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta, however, upheld the life imprisonment awarded to the third convict by a trial court in the case.

“We commute death sentence awarded to two convicts to life imprisonment,” the bench said.

While convicts Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla were handed down death penalty by the trial court in 2016, the third offender Baljeet Malik was given reprieve from the gallows for his good conduct in jail and awarded life imprisonment for murder of the IT executive and other counts.

While sentencing the two to death, the trial court had said the 28-year-old woman was killed in a “cold-blooded, inhuman and cruel manner” and “brutally mauled to death”.

The police had claimed robbery was the motive behind the killing.

While seeking setting aside of the conviction and order on sentence for Shukla and Malik, their advocate Amit Kumar had contended before the HC that the trial court had committed error by awarding death penalty and life imprisonment to his clients respectively, simply on the basis of biased jail/ probation report about the both.

No coercive action against Deepak Talwar in FCRA case: HC

The Delhi High Court has asked the CBI not to take any coercive action against corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and his NGO in a criminal case lodged against them over alleged violation of foreign funding laws.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta, however, made it clear that this protection would be available only if they continue to cooperate with the CBI investigation.

“Having heard the counsel on behalf of the parties, this court is of the view that subject to petitioners continuing to cooperate in the investigations by the CBI, no coercive action should be taken till further orders,” the bench said.

The high court’s order came on a plea by Talwar and his NGO, Advantage India, who have sought quashing of the CBI’s FIR lodged against them for criminal conspiracy, forgery and under various sections of the FCRA for allegedly diverting Rs 90.72 crore worth of foreign funds meant for ambulances and other articles received by his NGO from Europe’s leading missile manufacturing company.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs on August 3 initiated proceedings against Talwar, his NGO and others after cancelling the voluntary body’s licence.

The ministry subsequently sent the matter to the CBI, which on November 16 initiated criminal proceedings by registering an FIR against Talwar and five others.

The bench, however, observed that the provisions of FCRA, used by the ministry and CBI to initiate the proceedings against the lobbyist and his NGO, could not have been invoked together.

“Prima facie, it appears to the court that section 43 of FCRA, which seeks to override only the provisions of the CrPC that may be contrary thereto, is subject to section 40 FCRA.

Also, given the scheme of the FCRA, two parallel criminal proceedings, one under section 40 FCRA and other under section 43 FCRA appears inconceivable and legislatively unintended,” the bench noted.

It observed the apart from the fact that the offences under the FCRA are expressly stated to be noncognisable, section 40 of FCRA is categorical that “no court shall take cognisance of any offence under this Act, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government or any officer authorised by that Government in this behalf”.

“Section 43 of FCRA appears to permit an investigation by an officer as may be authorised by the Central Government into the very same offences under the FCRA by granting such authority the powers that a police officer may have while investigating a cognisable offence.

“In the present case, without resorting to the route contemplated under Section 40 of FCRA, the Central Government appears to have invoked Section 43 of FCRA to get the CBI to straightaway register an FIR not limited to offences under the FCRA, but also IPC offences that are cognisable,” it noted.

The bench also issued notice to the Centre and the CBI on the plea and sought their replies within four weeks.

The court fixed the matter for further hearing on March 13 next year.

Release funds for salary of EDMC employees: HC

Release funds for salary of EDMC employees: HC
Release funds for salary of EDMC employees: HC

Warning of a health epidemic, Delhi High Court today directed the city government to ensure immediate release of funds to East Delhi Municpal Corporation to pay dues to employees for May and observed that sanitation workers cannot be expected to work without salaries.

“Why should the poorest wait for their salary. We have gone past promises. People on ground are suffering. Why should they work without salary?” the court said and issued a slew of directions to immediately clear the “alarming proportions” of garbage which has been piling on streets due to a strike by the workers.

The High Court also voiced unhappiness over Delhi Government’s submission that it will take a decision for release of funds in its budget session and said, “Call for an emergency session. It’s a serious issue, a health epidemic.”

On the issue of removal of garbage from the areas, a bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta directed the Commissioner of Police to constitute specific task forces to be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector to oversee ward-wise garbage removal right away.

It also restrained the associations of safai karamchaaris from obstructing removal of garbage from dumps, a function which has been outsourced to private agencies.

The court directed the city government, Chief Secretary and Urban Development secretary to hold a meeting with the EDMC Commissioner tomorrow morning and decide the amount required by EDMC for payment of salaries while ensuring that it is released soon.

The bench also directed the Delhi government to ensure that the required funds are “provisionally” transferred by June 15 with the condition that it would be used only for paying the EDMC employees.

It also directed the Police Commissioner, or his representative, and Commissioner of EDMC to meet today itself to work in close coordination over setting up of task force to ensure “removing of garbage is straight away carried out”.

The court passed the order after it perused news reports and pictures submitted by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, who showed photographs of various areas in east Delhi where garbage has spilled onto the roads.

The bench issued notice to Centre, Delhi government, EDMC and various associations of safai karamchaaris, seeking their replies before the next date of hearing on June 19, when the authorities have been directed to submit their compliance reports.

Child rape & murder: 56-yr-old’s death penalty commuted to life

A 56-year-old man, facing gallows for brutally raping and murdering a three-year-old girl, has been spared death penalty by the High which has commuted it into life term.

The court considered a report of probation officer (PO) on possibilities of reformation and rehabilitation of convict Singh and concluded that he can be “reformed”.

The high court on April 17 had upheld the conviction and sentence awarded to Singh for raping the minor. However, it had deferred its decision as to whether Singh can be sent to the gallows for murder, as awarded by the trial court, or serve life imprisonment.

A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Mukta Gupta, which was to decide on the appeal of Singh and the death reference plea of the state, had asked the Delhi government to appoint a probation officer for giving a report as to whether there was any chance of convict being “rehabilitated or reformed” or if he is still a threat to the society.

“… Relevant to the present case, the court notes the positive feedback received by the PO from the jail authorities as regards the appellant’s (Singh) conduct in jail and his preparedness to render services to his old and ailing inmates.

“In light of the above reports, the court is persuaded to conclude that there exists a probability that convict can be reformed and rehabilitated. He has been in custody only since April 2011. In the course of his serving imprisonment for life, there would be sufficient opportunity to evaluate the positive effects of the correctional measures,” the court said.

The lower court had on January 15, 2013 awarded death penalty to Singh for the and life imprisonment for the rape of the child, saying the case “fell in the category of rarest of rare cases warranting the capital punishment”.

HC reserves order on customs deptt plea agst SAD MLA

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court today reserved its order on a plea against acquittal of Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Joginderpal Jain for possessing foreign currency worth Rs 16 lakh.

Justice S Muralidhar reserved the verdict after the counsel for department of customs and Jain, respectively, concluded their arguments.

The court was hearing an appeal filed by the department of customs against Jain’s acquittal by the trial court in 2006.

Jain was arrested on January 29, 1988, at IGI minutes before he was to board a flight for Hong Kong.

According to the prosecution, one Manohar Lal Grover had tipped off customs officials that Jain was travelling as Mohan Lal.

The customs officials had immediately stopped Jain from boarding and checked his luggage. They had claimed to have seized Rs 16.12 lakh and Rs 7.46 lakh in unaccounted Indian and foreign currency from him.

It was further claimed that the accused voluntarily confessed to his crime, following which a case was registered under the relevant provisions of the Customs Act, 1962.

Grover, however, died during the trial and the court had given the accused the “benefit of the doubt”.

(Source: PTI)