HC dismisses oldest criminal appeal of 1986

Shibu Thomas TNN

    Mumbai: The oldest criminal appeal, concerning a daylight murder in Mumbai in 1984, was finally disposed of by theBombay High Court on Monday. A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M L Tahaliyani dismissed an appeal filed by the state government over 25 years ago challenging the acquittal of seven accused in the murder case.

      “The registry’s note said that this was the oldest criminal appeal pending before the high court,” said additional public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani.

     There are around2.2lakh civil and criminal cases pending before the high court. Around 3,600 criminal appeals are filed every year before the high court by accused and the state government against convictions and acquittals.The1986 appeal was one of the 20,000 appeals (including revision applications) pending before the high court.
The present case relates to an incident dating back to February 2, 1984.

      A local gangster, Maxi Mendonsa, was on his way to the Andheri metropolitan court for hearing in a case. The police case was that the seven accused—Ramnath Patil, Suresh Sable, Mohan Asolkar, Dilip Nyanirgune, Atmaram patil, Kishore Patil and Ashok Jagpat—tried to intercept an autorickshaw Mendonsa was traveling in. The accused, all residents of Sion, Chunabatti, were travelling in two taxis. A chase ensued and Mendonsa fell into a ditch. The accused assaulted him with choppers and knives and killed him.

       The police registered a murder case and arrested the accused. Two of the eyewitnesses, who had taken down the registration number of the taxis, turned hostile, while a third, a taxi driver, could not properly identify the accused.

      In December 1985, a sessions court acquitted all the seven accused, giving them benefit of doubt. The state challenged the trial court’s verdict and filed an appeal in the high court in 1986, where it was pending all these years.

       Late last year, the matter was placed for hearing before the high court. Hingorani argued that the trial judge had not properly appreciated the evidence submitted by the police. The high court did not agree with the prosecution and upheld the acquittal.

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