The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Saturday upheld the verdict given by a special court acquitting all the accused in the 2009 Margao blast case.
The High Court pronounced its verdict in an appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) challenging the acquittal of the accused in the matter.
A special court had in December 2013 acquitted all the six accused over lack of evidence, while two had died while ferrying the explosives to the targeted site at Margao on the eve of Diwali. The NIA had challenged the judgment before the High Court. Soon after the local police arrested Vinay Talekar, Dhananjay Ashtekar, Prashant Ashtekar, Vinayak Patil, Prashant Juvekar and Dilip Mazgaonkar, the case was transferred to NIA and it filed a charge sheet in May 2010.
After around four years of trial, the special court acquitted all the six accused due to lack to corroborative evidence.
The High Court division bench comprising Justice M S Sonak and Justice M S Jawalkar observed, “Applying the principles in the evaluation of evidence on record in this matter, we are unable to accept that the prosecution has established its case beyond reasonable doubt against any of the accused persons. At the highest, some sort of suspicion can be said to have been raised particularly since the prosecution has succeeded in proving that
the incident of October 16, 2009 did take place and the prosecution has also succeeded in proving some of the circumstances concerning the same. The proved circumstances, however, are not at all sufficient to convict the accused persons. Suspicion, howsoever grave, can never take place of proof which is required in such matters.”
The High Court also said, “Though we set aside the remarks and observations in the impugned judgment and order on the doubts expressed about veracity of the FIR and remarks and observations about the lack of bonafides in the launching of this prosecution or direction of the investigations, we sustain the acquittals recorded in the impugned judgment and order. This appeal, to the extent it seeks reversal of the acquittal recorded by the special court, is therefore hereby dismissed.”
The High Court observed, “Thus, barring the first three circumstances, the prosecution in this case cannot be said to have proved beyond reasonable doubt, its case against the accused persons. Based upon the fact that the explosion with IED did take place on October 16, 2009 at the spot hardly 400 metres away from the venue of the Narkasur effigy competition and the fact that the prosecution has proved first three circumstances, the observations made by the special judge doubting the veracity of FIR or suggesting any malafides in the launch of the prosecution or suggesting that certain Sanstha was undoubtedly roped in, cannot be sustained and are required to be set aside as being contrary to the weight of evidence on record.”
The High Court added, “Such observations or remarks cannot, according to us, be regarded as legitimate inferences which could be drawn from the evidence on record. There was no warrant for such observations or remarks. Accordingly, we do not sustain or approve such observations. The circumstance that we quite agree with the other findings or inferences recorded by the special court may therefore not be taken as approval or endorsement to the observations relating to any doubt on the veracity of FIR or any malafides launching or directing the investigation in this matter.”