Mumbai: Acquittal in 27-yr-old case as witness dead, documents misplaced

The prosecution however had managed to examine one witness - a police sub-inspector attached with the crime branch at the time, who had been present during the search operation.

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Sunday, February 13, 2022, 08:02 PM IST
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A city magistrate’s court has acquitted one person and discharged another in a case of 1994 in which the two were booked for possession of a country revolver and live rounds near Ghatkopar railway station in 1993.

A head constable attached with the crime branch then, who had received information from an informant that two persons would be coming to the location to sell the arms, was no more. It was on his information that a crime branch team had accosted the men and searched them in presence of independent witnesses and found a country-made revolver and live rounds from their pockets.

The crime branch had invoked the Arms Act against the two men. It informed the court that the constable, a witness in the case, had died in 2002. The court noted that summonses were issued to the independent witnesses who were present during the search and seizure operation, but their addresses had changed and hence it could not be served upon them. “Because the matter is pending since 1994, i.e, more than 25 years, witnesses are not traceable,” Additional Metropolitan Magistrate ST Dande stated in her judgment passed early this month.

The prosecution however had managed to examine one witness - a police sub-inspector attached with the crime branch at the time, who had been present during the search operation. The country-made revolver that was seized was also produced before the court and the policeman had identified it as the same that was seized from the absconding accused Chandrakant Patel. From the accused Sharad Patel, who was acquitted, live rounds had been seized, as per the witness’s deposition.

The court noted that original documents of the case are not before it. After filing the chargesheet in the case, the accused Patel had gone absconding. The file had therefore been kept dormant. The trial of Palande had begun only in 2019, after the case against Patel was separated. But the original papers, which included the sanction required for prosecuting persons under the Arms Act, were also not available during the trial. The court discharged Patel as it opined that there was no purpose of keeping the case pending against him, as there is no possibility of a conviction.

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