Court convicted ex-Deputy Mayor and 3 others in a fake encounter case

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A 24-year-old fake encounter case in which ex-Deputy Mayor of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and 3 others were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by Additional Sessions Judge Swapna Singh on Friday, June 29, 2018. Two of the other accused mentioned in the charge sheet had died earlier.

Facts of the case

Former Mayor of Lucknow Abhay Seth, ex-general secretary of Aliganj traders’ union, Ashok Mishra and two constables, Ram Chander Singh Chandel and Shivbhushan Tiwari were involved in a heinous conspiracy to kill and defame Aliganj resident Gopal Mishra on February 26, 1994. A story fits for a Bollywood potboiler that rocked Lucknow in which BJP leader and ex-Deputy Mayor played the main role of a coldblooded killer when he along with his business partner Ashok Mishra decided that their close acquaintance Gopal Mishra was proving to be a thorn in their side.

Gopal Mishra who was in construction business like his associate and friend Ashok Mishra (ex-general secretary of Aliganj traders’ union) wanted to build on a piece of plot in Aliganj area, which also attracted the attention of Ashok Mishra and ex-Deputy Mayor Abhay Seth. Ashok Mishra wanted to build a complex on that plot.

On the day of the incident, Gopal Mishra was visiting a friend’s house with his mother at Chaudhary Tola area of Lucknow, when suddenly a police team arrived at his friend’s residence with a search warrant. Both Ashok Mishra and ex-Deputy Mayor Abhay Seth accompanied the police and took part in the subsequent raid. Then on the instructions of the former Mayor police brutally gunned down Gopal Mishra in front of his mother. The police planted a country-made pistol provided by Ashok Mishra near the dead body and on the next day, claimed they had nabbed and killed a gangster in an encounter.

There was an uproar from the deceased’ family and friends which lead to then-chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh ordering an enquiry into the incident and directing the CB-CID on December 11, 1997, to register an FIR for proper investigation of the case. The charge sheet was presented to the Court and charges were brought against ex-Deputy Mayor Abhay Seth, Ashok Mishra, constables Ram Chander Singh Chandel, Shivbhushan Tiwari and Munshilal, and former station officer of Aliganj, DDS Rathore on October 7, 2008. Constable Munshilal and former station officer, DDS Rathore died during the long process of investigation and trial and so final charges were brought against the other four accused in this case.

Court ruling

The police brought several charges against the perpetrators under Indian Penal Code and Arms Act, ranging from conspiracy, murder, misleading the police and fake encounter. The prosecution presented the testimony of 13 eyewitnesses to the fake encounter case including deceased Gopal Mishra’s mother who was present at the scene of the incident on that fateful day. The case was heard by Honourable Additional Sessions, Judge Swapna Singh. The Court heard the prosecution’s arguments and agreed that the prosecution was successful in proving that the four perpetrators were involved in the conspiracy and fake encounter of Gopal Mishra. The trial court sentenced all the four accused to life imprisonment ending a 24-year-old battle for justice on behalf of Gopal Mishra.

Impact of the judgment

We have often heard the adage – Justice delayed is justice denied which has proven true in the majority of the court cases in India with a huge backlog of cases pending for trial and various prisoners are awaiting their fate for years to come. In this case, it took 24 long years for Gopal Mishra’s family to receive the fruits of justice but after the long struggle, Mishra’s hapless mother can finally rest easy knowing that her son was ultimately vindicated.

This quarter of a century-long battle is a salute to a mother’s strength, courage and perseverance in bringing her son’s ruthless killers to justice. This is also a testimony to the fact that in our country the courts unequivocally and categorically had always championed the cause of justice and had paved the path for many such victims to seek redress of their grievances in the future.

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