New Delhi, Jul 12 (ILNS) The Supreme Court today admitted an appeal filed by the Bihar government, challenging the judgment acquitting all accused in the 1999 Senari massacre of 34 upper caste persons by Maoists.
The division bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Krishna Murari asked the state government to serve notices to all acquitted persons.
Advocate on record Abhinav Mukerji appearing for the petitioner said that earlier, the Patna High Court in May acquitted 13 accused persons in the Senari massacre case in which 34 persons were killed on March 18, 1999 by an erstwhile Maoist group in Senari village in central Bihar.
A division bench of Justice Ashwini Kumar Singh and Justice Arvind Srivastava ruled that the prosecution witnesses “are not reliable” and the appellants deserved to be given the benefit of the doubt. “The acquitted persons should be released forthwith if they were not wanted in any other case,” said the Court.
“The burden of proof of guilt of an accused is upon the prosecution. It must stand by itself. In the present case, on appreciation of evidence adduced during the trial, I find that there is real and reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the persons, the Judgment reads.
Those who were acquitted are Bacchesh Singh, Buddhan Yadav, Butai Yadav, Satendra Das, Lallan Pasi, Dwarika Paswan, Kariban Paswan, Godai Paswan, Uma Paswan, Gopal Paswan (all were sentenced to death), Arvind Yadav, Mungeshwar Yadav and Vinay Paswan (life imprisonment).
After nearly 17 years, the Additional District Judge -III in Jehanabad had held 16 accused guilty and sentenced 11 of them to the death penalty and granted life imprisonment to the rest three in two separate judgments delivered on November 15 and November 18, 2016.
In the caste war which had raged in parts of central Bihar in 1990s, the banned Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) had killed 34 people belonging to the upper caste Bhumihar community with weapons at Senari village in the then Jehanabad district. The village now falls in Arwal district, which was created later.
Chinta Devi, whose husband Awadh Kishore Sharma and son Madhukar alias Jhabbu were among those massacred, was the complainant in the case. She died in 2011./ILNS/SNG