The Bombay High Court has acquitted five persons from charges of robbing a teacher of Rs 700 at knifepoint nearly a decade ago. The men served five years of the seven-year sentence. One of the persons died while their appeal was pending.
Acquitting the persons last week, Justice Sarang Kotwal observed that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The persons had filed an appeal in the HC challenging the March 2017 order of the Kalyan sessions court, which sentenced them to seven years in jail.
According to the prosecution, the victim, who was a computer institute teacher, was in love with someone for whom he had not expressed his feelings. Two of the five accused threatened to spread the news and demanded Rs 100 two months before the incident. The teacher paid the amount.
Emboldened, the accused demanded another Rs 10,000, which the teacher refused as he did not have the money. On December 3, 2012, the accused approached him and abused him for not paying. Later, one accused took some petrol from the teacher’s bike and poured it on him. Another lit a matchstick, however, the third extinguished the same. Meanwhile, another accused threatened the teacher with a knife and a broken bottle. A patrolling officer came there; while three fled, two of them were nabbed.
Aashish Satpute and Akshata Desai, advocates for the persons, argued that the victim didn’t make any reference to the Rs 700 forcibly being taken from him. With regard to the currency recovered from one of the accused (seven notes of Rs 100 each), there were no special marks. Also, the prosecution failed to produce the chemical analysis reports of the seized broken bottle and the victim’s shirt which was doused in petrol. However, the victim’s medical report revealed that he hadn’t suffered any injuries, said Satpute.
While acquitting the persons, Justice Sarang Kotwal, noted that the police officer did not mention a word about finding the knife but only the bottle containing petrol. Also, there was a “long gap” in taking two appellants to the police station and their physical search.
Remarking that the “prosecution case is extremely doubtful”, Justice Kotwal said that the victim’s friend, who was purportedly present at the time of the incident, was not examined and he could have thrown light on the incident.