9 years on, convicted man freed in murder case | India News

MUMBAI: Holding that planting of evidence cannot be ruled out in a case of robbery and murder of a vada-pao vendor, the Bombay high court acquitted a man, now 36, who has been in Taloja Central prison since his arrest for the last nine years.
A bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Milind Jadhav, on October 21, directed that the man, Shivdatta Sah, who in April 2015 had been sentenced to life imprisonment for a 2013 murder, “be released forthwith from prison”. The Kherwadi police had arrested him in July 2013.
The prosecution case was that murder victim Bharat Panjiyara had rented a room, and a day prior to the murder, Sah had made sandwiches for his landlord residing below. Panjiyara had on July 9 received Rs 51,000 from a private money scheme. On July 14, at 10.30pm, his landlord had last seen him alive. When Sah came delivering the pav early next morning, he found smoke coming from Panjiyara’s room and alerted the landlord. Panjiyara’s throat was slit and his clothes were on fire. The landlord informed the police and they registered an FIR. The police arrested Sah five days later and said he led them to a public toilet from where some cash and clothes were recovered. Sah had denied leading the police there and also denied other recoveries the police said they had made. Police said it recovered Rs 65,000 from him.
Sah had been given legal aid by counsel Mandar Soman. The counsel tore through the prosecution case and the guilty verdict of a Mumbai sessions court judge. Soman argued that it was a case sans any eyewitness and based completely on circumstantial evidence which then has to tie up and point only to the accused, but it doesn’t. He said the landlord’s deposition was vague, incomplete and inconsistent. The HC agreed.
Additional public prosecutor H J Dedhia said the murder conviction was justified with “strong motive” of stealing the Rs 51,000 from the victim.
The HC analysed the evidence and held that the prosecution failed to show necessary proof against Sah, including “importantly” that the denomination of cash recovered was Rs 1000 and Rs 500, with no evidence whether they were the same as what allegedly went missing.
The court said the chain of circumstances was incomplete and he was “wrongly convicted” by the trial court.
The HC said “his conviction was entirely based on “victim’s ID card, clothes and Rs 20,000 being found in a public toilet, but the theory of it being planted there cannot be ruled out and police failed in its duty to record statements of those present in the toilet when recovery was made. An independent witness (pancha) said police had themselves gone inside and come out with the clothes and money. HC said the pancha’s statement inspires no confidence and “hence recovery is doubtful and cannot be accepted”.
The HC also said that “in the absence of material evidence, it cannot be assumed that due to extreme poverty the Appellant (Sah) was compelled to commit the crime and stole the money from Bharat when there is an apparent mismatch” in money possessed by the victim and that recovered. Merely recovering stolen property does not automatically make an accused guilty of murder as well, the Supreme Court has held, pointed out the HC.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.