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Delhi violence 2020: Court acquits 4 accused of arson, rioting and theft

The court held that the witness were unable to prove the case against the accused beyond doubts while the accused asserted that they were not present at the time of incident

Sabrangindia 21 Nov 2022

Delhi Riots

A Sessions Court in North-East Delhi acquitted four accused in one of the several cases registered at the time of the 2020 violence of North-east Delhi. Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala found that evidence against the accused was not proved beyond doubts and the court was able to rely on only one witness brought forth by the prosecution who could not prove any overt action committed by the accused.

It was alleged that the accused caused damage to personal property by setting fire to the vehicle of the complainant as well as vandalizing his shop.

The chargesheet was filed under sections 147 [rioting], 148 [Rioting, armed with deadly weapon], 188 [Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant], 380 [Theft in dwelling house], 427 [Mischief] and 436 [Mischief by fire or explosive substance] of the Indian Penal Code.

The accused Mohd. Shahnawaz @ Shanu, Mohd. Shoaib @ Chhutwa, Shahrukh and Rashid @ Raja, denied all the allegations and pleaded innocence, taking plea that they were not present at the spot and they have been falsely implicated in this case. While appreciating the evidence in the case and after analysing the examination of witnesses, the court found that only one witness could prove the identity of the accused as members of the mob and his testimony simply stated that he had seen the accused persons in the mob, which was pelting stones and indulging into arson.

The other witness said  he was unable to identify four rioters correctly because of memory loss

The court relied upon the judgment in Masalti & Ors. v. State of U.P. (1964) 8 SCR 133 whereby the court dealt with a case of multiple murder by an unlawful assembly. The court held that,

16… where a criminal court has to deal with evidence pertaining to the commission of an offence involving a large number of offenders and a large number of victims, it is usual to adopt the test that the conviction could be sustained only if it is supported by two or three or more witnesses who give a consistent account of the incident. In a sense, the test may be described as mechanical; but it is difficult to see how it can be treated as irrational or unreasonable.

Further, in State of Maharashtra v. Ramlal Devappa Rathod, (2015) 15 SCC 77 the Supreme Court held that the test adopted in the Masalti case “is required to be applied while dealing with cases of those accused who are sought to be made vicariously responsible for the acts committed by others, only by virtue of their alleged presence as members of the unlawful assembly without any specific allegations of overt acts committed by them, or where, given the nature of assault by the mob, the Court comes to the conclusion that it would have been impossible for any particular witness to have witnessed the relevant facets constituting the offence.”

The witness only stated that he knew some members of the mob and did not state about any overt act of the accused persons. There was also discrepancy in the accounts of two separate witnessed brought forth by the prosecution, while stating the time of occurrence of the incident. “Keeping in view such varying account of same facts, I find it desirable to apply the test of consistent testimony of more than one witness, in present case also,” the court said in its order. “Applying that test, I hold that sole testimony of PW9 cannot be sufficient to assume presence of accused persons herein in the mob, which set ablaze shop A-53 and the goods carrier, both belonging to PW1. In such situation, accused persons are given benefit of doubt,” the court concluded.

In view of this opinion and findings, the court held that the charges levelled against e four accused were not proved beyond doubts. Thus, the court acquitted them of all charges.

The order may be read here:

 

Related:

Delhi violence hate platforms? TV channels 'incited' communal strife, alleges report

Delhi violence: Will not take such mishaps leniently: says Court as Delhi police brings "irrelevant witness"

Delhi violence 2020: Court acquits 4 accused of arson, rioting and theft

The court held that the witness were unable to prove the case against the accused beyond doubts while the accused asserted that they were not present at the time of incident

Delhi Riots

A Sessions Court in North-East Delhi acquitted four accused in one of the several cases registered at the time of the 2020 violence of North-east Delhi. Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala found that evidence against the accused was not proved beyond doubts and the court was able to rely on only one witness brought forth by the prosecution who could not prove any overt action committed by the accused.

It was alleged that the accused caused damage to personal property by setting fire to the vehicle of the complainant as well as vandalizing his shop.

The chargesheet was filed under sections 147 [rioting], 148 [Rioting, armed with deadly weapon], 188 [Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant], 380 [Theft in dwelling house], 427 [Mischief] and 436 [Mischief by fire or explosive substance] of the Indian Penal Code.

The accused Mohd. Shahnawaz @ Shanu, Mohd. Shoaib @ Chhutwa, Shahrukh and Rashid @ Raja, denied all the allegations and pleaded innocence, taking plea that they were not present at the spot and they have been falsely implicated in this case. While appreciating the evidence in the case and after analysing the examination of witnesses, the court found that only one witness could prove the identity of the accused as members of the mob and his testimony simply stated that he had seen the accused persons in the mob, which was pelting stones and indulging into arson.

The other witness said  he was unable to identify four rioters correctly because of memory loss

The court relied upon the judgment in Masalti & Ors. v. State of U.P. (1964) 8 SCR 133 whereby the court dealt with a case of multiple murder by an unlawful assembly. The court held that,

16… where a criminal court has to deal with evidence pertaining to the commission of an offence involving a large number of offenders and a large number of victims, it is usual to adopt the test that the conviction could be sustained only if it is supported by two or three or more witnesses who give a consistent account of the incident. In a sense, the test may be described as mechanical; but it is difficult to see how it can be treated as irrational or unreasonable.

Further, in State of Maharashtra v. Ramlal Devappa Rathod, (2015) 15 SCC 77 the Supreme Court held that the test adopted in the Masalti case “is required to be applied while dealing with cases of those accused who are sought to be made vicariously responsible for the acts committed by others, only by virtue of their alleged presence as members of the unlawful assembly without any specific allegations of overt acts committed by them, or where, given the nature of assault by the mob, the Court comes to the conclusion that it would have been impossible for any particular witness to have witnessed the relevant facets constituting the offence.”

The witness only stated that he knew some members of the mob and did not state about any overt act of the accused persons. There was also discrepancy in the accounts of two separate witnessed brought forth by the prosecution, while stating the time of occurrence of the incident. “Keeping in view such varying account of same facts, I find it desirable to apply the test of consistent testimony of more than one witness, in present case also,” the court said in its order. “Applying that test, I hold that sole testimony of PW9 cannot be sufficient to assume presence of accused persons herein in the mob, which set ablaze shop A-53 and the goods carrier, both belonging to PW1. In such situation, accused persons are given benefit of doubt,” the court concluded.

In view of this opinion and findings, the court held that the charges levelled against e four accused were not proved beyond doubts. Thus, the court acquitted them of all charges.

The order may be read here:

 

Related:

Delhi violence hate platforms? TV channels 'incited' communal strife, alleges report

Delhi violence: Will not take such mishaps leniently: says Court as Delhi police brings "irrelevant witness"

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