Thursday, April 18, 2024

Justice Ahutosh Kumar bench aquits Brind Manjhi of murder charges

Upon hearing the counsel for the appellant and the respondent in Brind Manjhi v. State of Bihar, Justices Ashutosh Kumar and Khatim Reza bench of Patna High Court gave the benefit of doubt to the appellant and set aside the judgment of conviction and the order of sentence by Additional Session Judge XIII, Patna. The appellant was acquitted of the charges raised against him. He was in custody for about twelve and half years by now. The Court directed him to be released forthwith from jail, if not required or detained in any other case. A copy of the judgment is required to be dispatched to the Superintendent of the concerned Jail for compliance and record. The appellant was convicted under Sections 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) vide judgment dated October 21, 2019. By this order he was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life, to pay a fine of Rs. 20,000/- under Section 302 IPC and RI for three years, to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000/-under Section 201 IPC. The case arose out of PS. Case No.-123 Year-2011, Thana: Patliputra, Patna.

The sentences were ordered to run concurrently. The appellant is the sole person put on trial for having murdered a ten year old boy. The mother of the deceased, viz., Manju Devi had lodged the FIR on June 25, 2011 at about 11:15 AM, alleging that on the previous day, at about 6 O'clock in the evening the deceased had brought some articles from the Kirana shop and had thereafter gone out to the house to play as also to pick up rags. When the child did not return after two hours, a search was made for him but to no avail. 

On June 25, 2011, she learnt that the dead body of a boy is lying near Rajapur Bridge near the brick-kiln of one Puneshwar Singh. The young boys of the village and her father-in-law/Sidheshwar Manjhi went to see the dead body and finding it to be the dead body of her son, brought it back. About 15 days prior to the occurrence, the appellant, her neighbour, had fought with the family and had also threatened that he shall decimate the entire family. Therefore, she suspected that the appellant along with his associates had killed the deceased by puncturing him with sharp/ pointed weapon.

The mother of the deceased found that he had been attacked at many places on his neck by a pointed object. She had also participated in the blockade of the road. She was told that the appellant had called the deceased and had lured him for giving tomatoes and biscuits. She was candid enough to tell the Court that neither she nor anyone of the grass-scrapers, who had first seen the dead-body lying on the sands, had seen the act of killing.

From the deposition of the investigator, it became very clear to the Court that while the dead-body was kept on the road and the traffic was blockaded, there was no reference of the appellant as the possible perpetrator of the crime. All that the crowd was asking for was compensation for the family of the deceased. 

The Court noted that the mother of the deceased did not have any suspicion on the appellant when at 10 O’clock in the morning of June 25, 2011, when she had submitted the missing report. It appears that it was only later that the family of the deceased realised that there had been some dispute in the past, a fortnight ago, when the appellant had threatened to decimate the family.

The Court observed: "It could only be a bluster or a brutum fulmen and nothing more." The judgement concluded that "We find that beyond suspicion, there is no other material to justify the conviction of the  appellant." The judgement was authored by Justice Ashutosh Kumar.

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