Jharkhand High Court Dismisses Criminal Appeal Against Judgment of Conviction and Order of Sentence Passed

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A criminal appeal was filed against the judgment of conviction and order of sentence by the Appellants. The appeal is dismissed with modification in conviction and sentence by Hon’ble Justice Ratnaker Bhengra on the grounds that the incident took place more than 30 years ago in 1987 and four out of nine appellants have died. 

Facts

Santosh Kumar Mahto who was the informant of this case had gone for grazing his ox in the field around 6 am on 06.08.1987. During this Parikshit Mahto, Yudhisthir Mahto, Tinkauri Mahto, Sitaram Mahato, Bhagirath Mahto, Kalipado Mahto, Debilal Mahto, Parikshit Mahto, Karno Mahto and Bhootnath Mahto surrounded the informant Santosh Kumar Mahto and assaulted him with a stick and gupti which resulted in several injuries on both his legs and both hands which lead to a fracture in his right leg and right hand and blood oozed out. After this when Santosh Kumar Mahto raised hulla his brother Vidhyadhar Mahto and Mahanad Mahato, son Gopal Mahto and villager Tarapad Mahto came and rescued him. 

It was stated that the reason for this occurrence was litigation since 1982 with the Accused persons. Based on FIR lodged in Chandankeyari Police Station case no. 62 of 1987 against the accused persons under sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 324, 325, 341 and 307 of the IPC. After completing the investigation, charge sheet was submitted and cognizance of the offences was taken and the case was committed to the Court of sessions. After, the conclusion of trial accused persons or appellants herein were convicted and sentenced as aforesaid.

Arguments

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Counsel for Appellants made many arguments on the points of evidence. The counsel argued that the ocular evidence that was submitted to the Court did not support the medical evidence. The FIR and the evidence had discrepancies and did not match exactly. Since this case was around 30 years old, the Court in the present scenario did not have essential aspects to inspect or retrospect. 

Considering the fact that it was a trial for attempted murder the evidence provided for by the doctors played an important role in the present case. There had been considerable discrepancies in the results that have been provided by the different doctors. The lack of uniformity fundamentally runs opposite to the doctrine of beyond reasonable doubt. Counsel argued that the evidence of such interested witnesses cannot be taken when there is also a background of enmity or land dispute between the parties. 

Counsel further argued that many persons were grazing the cattle nearby the place of occurrence and it is more shocking as to why none among them were enlisted as prosecution witnesses and examined. In connection to this, the court also agreed with the Appellants on this aspect that the appellants had spent enough time and had done their required time in custody.

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On the contrary, the opposing counsels argued essentially that the evidence was enough and that they corroborate. The assault charges and the attempt charges are all valid and that the court should consider the trauma and the injuries of the victim. 

Judgement 

The Court found that the event took place more than 30 years ago in 1987 and four out of nine appellants have died. Remaining appellants are in their 50’s or 60’s and have faced long and hard of trial. The conviction of the Appellants under section 307/149 of IPC is set aside and is modified to under section 324/149 of IPC. The conviction of the appellants under section 148 of IPC remains. Appellants are discharged from the liabilities of the bail bonds. The Court dismissed the appeal with the above modifications made. 

Click here to view full judgement.


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