The Supreme Court today upheld the life sentence awarded to former Lok sabha MP Anand Mohan Singh for instigating a mob to kill erstwhile Gopalganj District Magistrate G Krishnaiah in 1994, but acquitted all other six accused, including his wife Lovely Anand.
A bench headed by justice A K Patnaik also dismissed Bihar government's appeal for enhancing Singh's sentence to death penalty and challenging acquittal of other accused in the case.
"We do not find any merit in either the appeal of A-1 (Anand Mohan Singh) or the appeals of the State and we, accordingly, dismiss all the criminal appeals," the bench said.
The cross appeals were filed against the December 2008 verdict of the Patna High Court, which had commuted Singh's death penalty, awarded by the trial court, to life sentence and had acquitted all others due to lack of evidence.
Besides Lovely Anand, former state Minister Akhlaq Ahmed, former MLA Arun Kumar, MLA (JD-U) from Lalganj Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla, Shashi Shekhar and Harendra Kumar were acquitted.
Singh, a gangster-turned-politician from Bihar who was the leader of the then Bihar People's Party (BPP), was accused of inciting a mob accompanying the cortege of a BPP leader to lynch Krishnaiah on December 5, 1994. The BPP is now defunct.
Additional District and Sessions Judge R S Rai had on October 3, 2007 awarded death sentence to Mohan, Ahmed and Arun Kumar and life imprisonment to Lovely Anand, Munna Shukla, Shashi Shekhar and Harendra Kumar.
The high court, however, had commuted Sigh's death penalty to life imprisonment and had acquitted all other accused.
The apex court agreed with the findings of the high court which held that the case is not the rarest of rare one warranting death penalty for the convict.
"As A-1 (Singh) was not the assailant himself, death sentence would not be the appropriate sentence. We agree with this view of the high court and we are of the view that this was not one of those rarest of rare cases where the high court should have confirmed the death sentence on him. In our considered opinion, he was liable for rigorous imprisonment for life," the bench said.
Upholding his conviction, the bench further said he was not able to prove that he was not present on the spot where the DM was shot dead.
"If he wanted the court to reject this prosecution version as not probable, burden was on him to lead evidence that he was not at the spot and did not exhort Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased. Since he has not discharged this burden, the high court was right in holding that he was guilty of the offence under Section 302/109 IPC," the bench said.
With regard to other accused, the apex court said they can not be convicted "as the majority of the fourteen prosecution witnesses comprising both civilian and the police personnel accompanying the procession does not support the prosecution version that they also exhorted Bhutkun Shukla to shoot at the deceased."
SC Upholds Life Term of Anand Mohan for DM's Murder
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