All 13 Convicts in Senari Massacre (1999) Acquitted by High Court of Patna Owing to Lack of Evidence

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Case: The State of Bihar vs. Bachesh Kumar Singh and others.  

Facts 

In 1999, there was a caste battle going on in village Senari. One day in the evening, hundreds of armed miscreants from the Maoist Communist Centre entered the village searching for the people belonging to “Ranveer Sena”. They dragged them to the outskirts of the village and 34 out of them were murdered. At the time when this incident occurred, there was no electricity in the village thus people recognized the killers with help of the torchlight. Police filed an FIR under sec. 147, 148, 149, 324, 307, 302, 452, 380, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 27 of the Arms Act, Section 17 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and ¾ of the explosive substances act. The trial court held 13 accused persons guilty and a few of them were given death sentences and others life imprisonment. They challenged this order in the High court.

Arguments of the Petitioner

The learned counsel argued that as there was no electricity in the village at the time of occurrence, how can the testimony of the eye-witnesses be trusted. Further, they were strangers to them so how can they surely claim the killers to be them. Moreover, no TIP was conducted during the course of the investigation. Stating further they argued that in such a chaotic situation when everyone was running here and there the witness’s state of mind should also be considered.

Arguments of the Defendants

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The counsel on behalf of the respondents claimed that there were eyewitnesses present who have recognized some of the killers with the help of torches and had also testified for the same. Murder weapons were also seized from the site of the incident. Killers were also shouting MCC zindabad while dragging and killing the victims.

Court’s Opinion

The High court opined that the conditions surrounding the identifications rendered such identifications very flimsy in the absence of any corroboration. The conviction was based on dock identification made more than 7 years and extended to about 16 hours after the incident. Thus, the judgment cannot wholly rely upon the statements of the eye-witnesses. Hence, the court overturned the judgment by the Trial Court and acquitted all the 13 convicts due to the lack of evidence against them.

Click here to view full judgment.


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