"Trial Court Cannot Make Findings Based On Suspicion"- Gauhati HC Acquits 6 Accused In 2004 Independence Day Bomb Blast
A Gauhati High Court Bench of Justice Michael Zothankhuma and Justice Mridul Kumar Kalita has acquitted 6 accused in a 2004 bomb blast case.
The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), which is a banned militant organization, had been held for this blast, which killed 13 persons, including 10 children during the Independence Day celebrations at Dhemaji College Playground.
To that end, it was said that, "The Trial Court cannot make findings on the basis of speculations or suspicion and the same has to be based on evidence. It has been held by the Supreme Court that Courts should be wary of the fact that it is human instinct to react adversely to the commission of an offense and make an effort to see that such instinctive reaction does not prejudice the accused in any way. While the offence committed is a serious one and though conviction may be based solely on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution must provide greater assistance to the Court that its case has been proved beyond reasonable doubt."
Counsel AK Das, Counsel DK Bhattacharyya and Counsel A Khanikar appeared for the appellants, while Additional PP S Jahan appeared for the State.
The Court was hearing the appeal of 6 of the accused, 4 of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Trial Court. The Trial Court found them guilty of hatching a conspiracy and found them to be ULFA members or/and active supporters of ULFA.
The High Court observed that, "the prosecution has not been able to conclusively prove the guilt of the appellants, as there is no continuous chain of circumstantial evidence, with regard to the hypothesis that the appellants had hatched a conspiracy and had blasted the bomb on the fateful day in the Dhemaji College Field."
It was also concluded that the findings of the Trial Court were not supported by the evidence recorded by the prosecution witnesses. It was observed that the Trial Court had come to findings based on suspicion and speculation.
Further, it was observed that, "The lack of evidence to bring home the guilt of the appellants is clear from the testimony of some of the witnesses and the statements given by them under Section 164 CrPC. It is the duty of the Court to ensure that the evidence is legally admissible and on considering the evidence adduced by the witnesses, we do not find any link to forge the chain of circumstantial evidence together,”.
Giving the accused the benefit of the doubt, the Court acquitted them of the charges.
Cause Title: Smt. Dipanjali Borgohain & Ors v. State of Assam