Mumbai: Terming as a ‘circuitous’ attempt the petition filed by a witness seeking to challenge the acquittal of all the policemen from the alleged staged encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and close associate Tulsiram Prajapati, the Bombay High Court dismissed it on Monday. The court turned down the application for want of locus standi.

A bench of Justices Indrajit Mahanty and Anant Badar dismissed the plea of Mahendrasinh Zala, a witness in the case, who urged the bench to allow him to challenge the acquittal of the policemen.

“Except persons like the district magistrate, state and/or union governments, complainant can avail a right to appeal with the leave of court and no other party has been conferred right of appeal against an order of acquittal, which is specifically and expressly barred under the provisions of the Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPC),” the judges noted.

According to Zala, he was a victim of the crime as the discharged accused, D G Vanzara, had allegedly threatened to kill him in a ‘Sohrabuddin-like’ encounter. The officer, as per Zala, had allegedly extorted Rs 15 lakh from him.

The bench ruled that only a victim of the offence can challenge the acquittal; however, such a person would be a directly affected party. “A victim is a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged. Thus, whether a person is a victim or not, is required to be judged qua the charge framed against the accused persons in the concerned trial,” the judges said.

The bench further referred to the chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and noted that charges were framed against the policemen in respect of kidnapping Sohrabuddin, Kausuar Bi, killing them and destroying the evidence.

“Neither the prosecution levelled the charge of extortion from the applicant (Zala) against the accused persons nor has he deposed about this.

Thus, it cannot be said that Zala is a person who has suffered any loss or injury, by reason of the act or omission, for which the accused persons have been charged,” the judges held.

“Thus, an appeal against an order of acquittal by Zala, who is not the victim, is not at all maintainable under the provisions of the CrPC and the same is liable to be dismissed at the very threshold, it being a circuitous attempt to impugn the judgment of acquittal without any authority of law,” reads the verdict authored by Justice Badar.

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