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In a significant development, the High Court has upheld the acquittal of  five accused individuals involved in a murder case dating back to March  6, 1996. The incident revolved around the murder of Siddhnath Patel,  leading to legal proceedings against the accused under Section 302 of  the Indian Penal Code, with one individual facing charges under Section  109 read with Section 302. 

Chandrasekhar Patel, the deceased’s son and witness PW-2, and the  State had appealed against the High Court’s order of acquittal. Senior  counsel Sanjay R. Hegde supported PW-2’s appeal, stressing that the  

prosecution established the accused’s culpability based on the  testimony of key witnesses PW-1 to PW-5. 

However, the Appellate Court highlighted the scrutiny required when  dealing with appeals against acquittals. It emphasized the need to re evaluate the evidence to determine if the initial court’s acquittal  decision was a plausible conclusion based on the available records. The  court noted that merely finding an alternative viewpoint isn’t enough to  overturn an acquittal, given the presumption of innocence. 

Upon independent analysis, the court found discrepancies in the  testimonies of crucial witnesses. It particularly highlighted issues with  PW-1’s cross-examination, where crucial questions challenging the  witness’s credibility were disallowed by the Trial Court. Such limitations  in questioning could have affected the outcome, according to the  judgment. 

Additionally, other key witnesses, including PW-2 to PW-5, failed to  provide substantial evidence or corroborate critical details regarding the 

incident. The court expressed doubts about the truthfulness of their  accounts and criticized the absence of efforts to record statements from  alleged independent witnesses present at the crime scene. 

Ultimately, the Appellate Court concluded that the High Court’s decision  to acquit the accused was a plausible one, given the lack of concrete  evidence and the inconsistencies in witness testimonies. Consequently,  it dismissed the appeals, emphasizing the insufficiency of evidence to  establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The High Court’s affirmation of the acquittal highlights the challenges  posed by insufficient evidence and inconsistencies in witness  testimonies, leading to the dismissal of appeals seeking to overturn the  initial judgment. 

Written by Samruddhi Kulkarni from ILS Law College pune (BA.LL.B).

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