The Bombay High Court (HC) has upheld the life sentence of two persons who killed their neighbour in November 2010 following an argument over allegations of stealing aluminium sheets.
Dismissing the appeals filed by Rashid Shaikh and Naushad Shaikh, the court observed that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
On November 30, 2012, the sessions court at Sewree had convicted Rashid and Naushad on charges of murdering their neighbour Maqbool and sentenced them to life imprisonment and had imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each. The duo had approached the HC challenging this verdict.
According to the prosecution, on November 20, 2010, Maqbool’s wife Shamshad and his sister Nasreenbanu went to Rashid’s house to inquire about the missing aluminium sheets which they had kept outside their house. They alleged that Rashid took them. Rashid was not at home, but the two women had a heated argument with his sister and brother.
That night, at around 11 pm, Rashid went to Maqbool’s house with an accomplice and allegedly attacked him with a chopper. As Maqbool’s family members raised an alarm, the duo tried to run. The neighbours managed to apprehend Naushad and Rashid. Maqbool was rushed to hospital but he succumbed to injuries.
Rashid’s advocate, Yug Choudhary, argued that he was at work at the time the alleged incident took place. Taking the plea of alibi, Choudhary showed the statement of one Anand Sharma who deals in hotel and catering business. According to Rashid, he was assigned to Hotel Taj Mahal at Colaba on the date of incident and his duty was from 3 pm to midnight.
Sharma produced the register wherein Rashid had signed in at the work at 3 pm. However, there is no fixed record of people leaving from duty.
A division bench of justices SS Shinde and VG Bisht, observed that “it is settled law that while raising a plea of ‘alibi’ the burden squarely lies upon the accused person to establish the plea by leading cogent and convincing evidence”.
Dismissing his alibi plea, the HC said, “Considering the nature of evidence of ‘alibi’ led by the appellant (Rashid) against the positive evidence of the prosecution including the evidence of chemical analyser’s report, we hold that the appellant has miserably failed to discharge his burden with precision qua his plea of ‘alibi’.”
Naushad’s advocate Daulat Khamkar argued that the alleged incident took place in a densely populated area. Despite there being several independent witnesses, the prosecution has examined only Maqbool’s family members. He further argued that since the family members were interested parties, their statements cannot be relied upon completely.
Dismissing the arguments, the HC said that on reading the victim’s wife’s and sister’s evidence it was “more than satisfied that their substantive evidence is in consonance with the contents of the FIR”.
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