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-Report by Nandani Soni

It was held by the Supreme Court of India that the order passed by the High court convicting the accused must be quashed and the appellants must be acquitted.

FACTS

An appeal had been registered against the order passed by the division bench of the High Court. The appellants namely, Chaitu Gowala and Ajay Ahari were tried for the offences under sections, 392/149/302/148/323 IPC for having murdered the Managing director of the company in which they were working, named Rupak Kumar Gogoi. Eyewitnesses were examined by the prosecution, who had identified the appellants and the other accused. After the trial, the trial court acquitted 57 of the accused and convicted 13 of them. The present appeal only remained for Chaitu Gowala and Ajay Ahari.

APPELLANT’S CONTENTION

The learned counsel who appeared on behalf of the accused stated that the appellants were merely office bearers at that time and the labourers gathered while they were talking and attacked. They further submitted that there was no evidence to prove that the appellants had in fact committed the offence, hence the conviction of the accused becomes baseless.

RESPONDENT’S CONTENTION

The eye witnesses saw the appellants engaging with the mob and talking to them in their language. Therefore, the appellants were rightly convicted under Section 149 of IPC.

COURT’S DECISION

The court observed that the prosecution failed to gather any concrete evidence for the offences, it was proved that the appellants were merely office bearers at that time and there was hardly any evidence that the appellants even instigated the mob. It was observed:

“If the entire evidence and the deposition of the eye witnesses are scanned, it appears that in fact the appellants were present there as office bearers of the Union. There were some disputes with respect to wages. Even as per the deposition of PW3, on being called, the appellants entered into the office room but soon both of them came out and told the assembled labourers that the Managing Director would distribute their dues and asked them to go to the place where dues were to be distributed. Despite the same, the labourers protested that they would not accept anything other than the full dues and they started shouting…….. in absence of any concrete evidence that the appellants attacked and/or caused any injury to the deceased and/or even the PSO and in absence of any evidence what was uttered by the appellants – accused in their own language and in absence of any evidence that the appellants instigated the labourers – others co-accused, we are of the opinion that the appellants cannot be convicted for the offence under Section 302 IPC with the aid of Section 149 IPC.”

Therefore, the decisions of the High court and the Trial Court were set aside as far as the appellants were concerned and the punishment for the other accused was confirmed.

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