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"After fighting the legal battle for more than thirty-four years, the appellants have won the case," the Court noted, acquitting two persons of hurt and homicide charges slapped on them 34 years ago.
In a bittersweet ending to a longdrawn legal battle, two persons convicted for murder 34 years ago have been acquitted of all the charges laid on them by the Trial Court (Nitya @ Nityananda Behera and Anr. v. State of Orissa).
While acquitting the two, the Bench of Justice SK Sahoo quoted the "justice delayed is justice denied" adage and expressed a hope that such cases would not arise in the future.
While the first appellant, Nitya, was convicted by the lower court for culpable homicide, the second appellant Madhia was found to have used a dangerous weapon to voluntarily cause hurt to a person.
The dispute that resulted in the death of a person arose from a quarrel over the ownership of a tree. A tree in the village was supposed to be cut down for use in a neighbouring village school. The appellants laid claim to the tree. After it was cut down, they took away the branches of the tree to their home. When the deceased and a group of people confronted the appellants, a scuffle broke out. The fight injured the deceased and another person. The deceased later succumbed to his injuries.
The appellant who supposedly dealt a blow to the deceased with the yoke of a bullock cart was also injured during the exchange of hostilities.
The Trial Court found the death caused to have been homicidal and convicted Nitya for culpable homicide. Madhia was convicted for voluntarily causing hurt.
The High Court, overturning the conviction, found that the yoke that was supposedly used to batter the deceased had no blood on it. Additionally, the testimony of the medical practitioner was not obtained during the trial.
Further, remarking that the appellant's claim of private defence was not taken into consideration by the trial court, the High Court found that the charges against them were not sustainable in law. Therefore, the accused were entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
Holding that the prosecution was unable to prove their charges beyond reasonable doubt as they were supposed to, the two were acquitted.
Read the Judgment: