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Written by: Akash Deep (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)

BACKGROUND

34 persons belonging to upper caste community were killed on March 18, 1999 by a group of extremists of Maoist Community Centre (MCC). The massacre took place in Senari village in Jehanabad district of Bihar, where 34 upper caste people were dragged out of their house and been taken to the outskirts of the village and slaughtered near the temple of Senari village in Jehanabad district of Bihar. The massacre was considered to be an aftermath of the Laxmanpura-Bathe massacre in 1997 where 57 Dalits were slaughtered. On November 2016, 10 accused were sentenced to death and three of them to life imprisonment by Jehanabad District Court for the offence of murder and rioting.

CONTENTION OF THE APPELLANTS

The counsel for the appellant argued that there were no evidence found that can connects the appellants from the incident and they were also not caught on the spot. There were many miscreants gathered that night and the statement given by the witnesses, who identified the accused, was not consistent and also the evidence is not sufficient to clearly prove the criminal intent therefore, it is insufficient to validate conviction. It was contented before the court that evidence produced before the lower court didn’t put to the appellants while examination and material which had not been put before the accused cannot attract conviction against them.

HIGH COURT FINDINGS

The bench said that the identification of the accused by witnesses for the first time in session’s court without prior Test Identification Parade (TIP) is not sufficient to convict them. The bench was of the view that ordinarily, an accused cannot be convicted relying upon the testimony of witness identifying for the first time without any previous TIP or any other corroborative evidence. The Court also observed that section 313 of CrPC mandates the court to give an opportunity to the accused to explain any circumstances which had been appeared in the evidence against him, which was not done by the trial court. The bench further observed that identification of accused was made after more than 9 years of the incident therefore, it does not form any basis for conviction and it can be considered as weak evidence.

JUDGMENT

The High Court of Patna observed that TIP was necessary to be carried in this case but it didn’t happen during investigation and the conviction of the appellants was based on the dock identification held after more than 7 years from the incident. The bench comprising justices Arvind Srivastava and Ashwani Kumar Singh while taking reference from Kanta Prasad v. Delhi Administration, Vaikuntam Chandrappa and Ors. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh observed that β€œan accused should not be convicted on the basis of the testimonies identified for the first time without prior TIP or any other corroborative evidence.” Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the court has rejected the order of lower court and directed to release all the appellants, acquitted in the Senari massacre.

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