HC acquits three convicted to life term in murder case


Eleven years after being convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case, the Bombay High Court has overturned the conviction and acquitted three persons after observing that they have been falsely implicated in the case.

A division bench of Justices P V Hardas and A S Gadkari overturned the conviction and life sentence awarded to three accused – Maruti Dhangar, Laxman Babu Konkeri and Bhima Sidda Mang – by a sessions court at Kolhapur in 1993.

The court, however, upheld the conviction and life sentence of the fourth accused – Pandurang Konkeri. According to prosecution, on September 26, 1988, the four had assaulted one Birappa and Rama, the cousin brothers of one of the accused Maruti. The accused had assaulted the two after a feud over agricultural land between the victims and Maruti. While Birappa died on the spot, Rama survived and was the sole eye witness in the case.

The sessions court had convicted the four relying on the evidence given by Rama.

The High Court, however, discredited Rama’s testimony and observed that the evidence given by other witnesses and circumstantial evidence submitted by prosecution shows that only Pandurang had assaulted the two and that Rama included Maruti and other persons’ names due to personal enmity.

“The evidence of the prosecution clearly indicates that it was Pandurang who had alone assaulted deceased Birappa and witness Rama. The evidence does not conclusively establish that the other three accused had assaulted the two. Thus the three would be entitled to be given the benefit of doubt,” the court observed.

“The conviction and sentence of Maruti Dhangar, Laxman Babu Konkeri and Bhima Sidda Mang is hereby quashed and set aside and they are acquitted of the offence with which they were charged and convicted,” the court said.