Read order: State vs. Suresh @ Bhatura 

LE Staff

New Delhi, July 21, 2021: While acquitting a man accused of rioting in a case related to the communal violence in Northeast Delhi last year, a Delhi court has said that it is not quantity but quality of the testimony of the witnesses that matters in a criminal trial. 

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat on Tuesday acquitted the accused Suresh, who was tried for charges of unlawful assembly, rioting and dacoity, on the ground of contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies.

“The prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case, forget about beyond reasonable doubts,” the trial court said, adding that no incriminating material has come up against the accused.

The case pertains to an unlawful assembly outside the shop of the complainant that ransacked and looted the shop, during the communal riots in the national capital in February last year. 

The case was filed on the complaint of Asif, who stated that a huge crowd carrying iron rods and sticks came to his shop on Main Babarpur Road, Delhi and attacked it. The mob allegedly broke open the shutter and the lock and looted the shop. The complainant was the tenant in the shop and the owner Bhagat Singh had reportedly seen the rioters committing the offence.

During the course of the investigation, Singh — the shop’s landlord — reiterated that the rioters were aggressive and wanted to loot the shop because it was of a Muslim. He also identified Suresh as one of the accused. On getting threatened with consequences on account of his intervention, Singh informed the police. Accordingly, Suresh was arrested.

Suresh was charged under sections 143/147/427/454 IPC r/w/s 149 IPC & Section 395 IPC

“There is no denial that an unlawful assembly gathered outside the shop of the complainant committed riot, ransacking of the shop with dandas and sariyas and committed robbery in the said shop. Therefore, the ingredients of the offence of unlawful assembly, rioting, dacoity and mischief by the unlawful assembly consisting of more than 05 persons in prosecution of that object is proved, as such,” said the ASJ. 

But the trial court pointed out that the identification of the accused and his role in the present offence of rioting by the unlawful assembly and the dacoity, was not established.

Adumbrating the glaring inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses, the trial court observed, “There is no testimony worth its salt which connect the accused to the present offence in question.” 

Summarizing the testimonies, the trial court noted that the complainant Asif was not an eyewitness to the incident of rioting and other connected offences in question. 

The trial court also noted the denial of the primary prosecution witness who refused to identify the accused at the time of commission of the alleged incident of rioting, dacoity and mischief by the unlawful assembly, and even before the police officials when they approached him with one apprehended individual.

The court said the prosecution witness “categorically stated” that he had never told the investigating officer that he could identify the person who had ransacked his shop and denied having made any such statement to the investigating officer. 

Thus, the ASJ said that “the prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case, forget about beyond reasonable doubts”. 

“All the major witnesses are at variance with each other on material terms impacting the prosecution version,” the court said, adding that no material has come up against the accused, which is incriminating in nature. 

Consequently, the Delhi Court acquitted the accused of all the offences punishable under sections 143/147/427/454 IPC r/w/s 149 IPC & Section 395 IPC

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