Let off by SC after 30 yrs, made dacoits for refusing to do 'Begar'

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New Delhi, Jan 6 (UNI) Even after 60 years of independance, the caste-ridden Indian society refuses to change its feudal mindset, it was again demonstrated when six people belonging to lower castes were exonerated of the charges of planning to commit dacoity in 1977, who according to the accused were framed for refusing to do begar (forced free labour) for upper caste Thakurs.

A bench comprising Justices C K Thakker and Tarun Chatterjee on January 4 dismissed the appeal of state of Uttar Pardesh against the Allahabad High Court judgment dated May 21,1999 reversing the order of conviction and sentence passed by the Additional Sessions Judge Etah setencing the six accused to four years imprisonment for planning dacoity acquitting all the accused.

The accused were identified as Punni, Munshi, Saligram, Sultan, Ram Murti and Ram Bharose.

The six appellants were nabbed by the police on October 15, 1977 when planning dacoity while three others escaped.

The Investigating Officer of the case were not examined as prosecution witnesses.

The main defence of the accused was that they have been falsely framed by the police in collusion with upper caste Thakurs for declining to do unpaid work (Begar) for the Thakurs.

According to the accused, the police witnesses were dalals of the police.

Accused Ram Bharose demonstrated during trial that he was not in good terms with other co-accused Ram Murti and his brother Ram Chandra and therefore the question of forming a gang of dacoits with them did not arise.

The apex court in its judgment noted ''This court would not interfere with such findings of the High Court unless the order of acquittal was not perverse or palpably erroneous. In view of our discussions made herein above, we do not find any ground to interfere with the decision of the High Court, which on consideration of all the material on record and the evidence adduced by the parties had acquitted the accused respondents and therefore no interference is warranted in the exercise of our power under Article 136 of the Constitution.'' The apex court also ruled that the High Court while reversing an order of acquittal passed by the trial court must give reasons.

UNI AKS/SC LPB RAI1006

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