Chhattisgarh High Court: Gautam Chourdiya J., allowed the appeal and reversed the impugned order due to lack of clear evidence.

 The facts of the case are such that on 3-07-2003 at about 5 pm near Primary School at Village- the accused persons were sitting with club and bamboo stick in their hands. One, Gajpati (PW-5), along with his nephew Adalat and his wife Etwarinbai reached the place of occurrence, all the accused persons started abusing him filthily in the name of his caste saying Sale Chamra and they all were threatening to kill them and thereby assaulted them. An FIR was lodged under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323 of Penal Code, 1860 and 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against all the accused persons. The trial considering the material available on record acquitted the other accused persons of all the charges, but convicted and sentenced the accused/appellants under Section 323 of Penal Code, 1860

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the entire evidence of the witnesses, it appears that all the accused persons assaulted upon the injured persons but the trial Court wrongly appreciated the evidence and without any basis held only the appellants guilty of causing simple hurt to the injured persons. It was further submitted that only general and omnibus allegations have been made against the appellants and other accused persons, there was a free fight between the parties but the trial Court on its own without there being any cogent and reliable evidence, held the appellants guilty under Section 323 of IPC, which is liable to be set aside.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the trial Court considering all the relevant aspects of the matter has rightly convicted and sentenced the present appellants by the impugned judgment which calls for no interference by this Court.

The Court held that “the trial Court has acquitted accused persons out of 16 and held only the appellants guilty under Section 323 of IPC. Admittedly, no appeal has been preferred by the complainant or the State against acquittal of other accused persons. Therefore, looking to the nature and quality of evidence available on record, considering the fact that there was a free fight between the parties due to old land related dispute where both the parties sustained injures and counter case was also lodged, it cannot be said with certainty that it is the present appellants who caused injuries to Shambhunath and Ghasnin Bai, as has been held by the trial Court. Therefore, the present appellants are also entitled for acquittal by extending them benefit of doubt.”

In view of the above, appeal was allowed and the impugned judgment was set aside. [Tiharu Sahu v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 666,  decided on 19-11-2020]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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