SC to hear Bihar's appeal against acquittal of 14 people in Senari massacre case; issues notices to them
The Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear the Bihar government's appeal against the acquittal of 14 people by the Patna High Court in a two-decade-old Senari massacre in which 34 people were killed allegedly by Maoist groups.
"The case of the prosecution is supported by a total of 23 witnesses out of which 13 are eyewitnesses who lost their near family in the mass carnage and includes 3 injured witnesses. It is important to note that none of the accused disputed the date, time, place, and manner of occurrence but still stand acquitted by the judgment on a misreading of the law and evidence on record.
"The findings of the HC are contrary to the evidence placed on record and the law declared by this Court on various principles of law. The Impugned Order fails to consider the contentions of the State and the reasons advanced by the Trial Court for convicting the accused in its well reasoned and detailed judgment that had been passed taking into account the conduct of the witnesses," the appeal stated.
The high court had allowed the appeal of the accused, setting aside the trial court orders passed in November 2016 by which they were convicted and awarded varying punishments for their roles in the carnage at Senari village.
The convicts — Dukhan Ram Kahar, Bachesh Kumar Singh, Budhan Yadav, Gopal Sao, Butai Yadav, Satendra Das, Lallan Pasi, Dwarik Paswan, Kariman Paswan, Gorai Paswan, Uma Paswan, were sentenced to the death penalty, and Mungeshwar Yadav, Vinay Paswan, and Arvind Paswan sentenced life imprisonment by the trial court.
Altogether, 34 upper caste persons were hacked to death on March 19, 1999, by members of the outlawed Maoist Communist Centre at the non-descript village, which was then a part of Jehanabad district but now falls in Arwal, carved out later.
In the FIR lodged subsequently, family members of the deceased had named the accused and the matter was tried before the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Jehanabad.
The high court, however, was of the view that 'the burden of proof of guilt of an accused is upon the prosecution. It must stand by itself. In the present case... there is real and reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the appellants'.
It was widely believed that the MCC had struck at Senari to avenge the killing of more than 60 of its alleged sympathizers at Laxmanpur Bathe less than two years ago when the dreaded Ranvir Sena had carried out the worst ever carnage in the history of the state.
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