The Patna High Court acquitted a man accused who allegedly hacked a differently abled woman to death in her house in front of her mother.

The Court noted that the prosecution story was based on speculations, and in such a situation the Court had no option but to give benefit of doubt to the man.

Considering the chain of events, the bench said that it appeared that the name of the man transpired only after three days of the lodging of the FIR, and that from the background facts the accused did not have any motive or reason to kill the deceased.

Calling the prosecution story not only weird but also ‘skewed logic’ and further noting that the witnesses were all hearsay and their knowledge was based only on what they had heard from other prosecution witness, a bench of Justice Ashutosh Kumar and Justice Nani Tagia thus observed, “To what benefit would the murder have been committed? The police never ventured into any other theory of killing. Were the family members involved in the killing of the deceased for the deceased being a differently abled woman who perhaps had lost her relevance in the family? But thinking on those lines would be making forays into thin air. We have to leave all such speculations at that only. We have no option but to give benefit of doubt to the appellant”.

The bench further said that the one of the incriminating pieces of evidence that the accused was wearing white vest and white lungi was absolutely weird. “If the appellant would have committed the offence, the aforenoted witnesses would surely have known that the appellant was the culprit. They have not made any statement during the course of investigation and only for the first time before the Trial Court, they have come up with an absolutely weird story of their having seen the appellant along with another person, dressed in a white vest and lungi moving with a feverish pitch. That someone else at the Trial had said that he had seen the appellant wearing white vest and white lungi. Well, that is the dress of persons of the community from which the appellant hails and deceased belonged!”, the bench observed.

In the pertinent matter, the FIR was lodged by the deceased’s brother who was told by his mother that on the previous night, a person, clad in vest and lungi and of a thin frame had killed the deceased. It was further averred that she had tried to accost the accused, but he never responded.

The informant (P.W. 7), suspected that perhaps the assailant would be from the family of those persons with whom he is on litigating terms and has been contesting a Title Suit where the opposite parties had not been appearing and the informant had to get a paper publication of the notice to them.

The Additional Sessions Judge-I, Jehanabad, accordingly, convicted the sole appellant under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, and directed to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000/-. In default of payment of fine, he had to further suffer imprisonment for one month.

However, noting the factual matrix of the present matter, the bench observed, “The FIR was lodged only on the basis of the threat doled out by the opposite parties in the Patna…Thus, from his deposition only, it appears that the name of the appellant transpired only after three days of the lodging of the FIR. It appears from the background facts that the appellant did not have any motive or reason to kill the deceased”.

On the feud between the parties, the bench further observed that if it were not for the insistence of the family of the deceased to have the shop vacated, there was no conceivable flash-point between the appellant and the deceased. Moreover, said that there was no evidence of any ransacking of the house or of any sexual attack either.

“The effort of the prosecution to anyhow take the case to a logical conclusion gets reflected very poorly if one examines the deposition of Mustafa Ansari and Md. Akhatar (P.W. 1 and P.W. 2 respectively)”, the bench further noted.

On the Police's investigation, the bench remarked, "We are at a loss to understand as to how the police changed its course of investigation and turned its gaze only towards the appellant, without realizing that not only the killing was mindless but the accusation was even more difficult to believe".

Thus, while allowing the appeal and setting aside the impugned order of conviction, the bench acquitted the accused, directing him to be released forthwith.

Cause Title: Amin Quireshi v. The State of Bihar

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