Patna: The Bihar government has decided to appeal against a Patna High Court order acquitting all 26 accused, 16 of whom were awarded death sentence by a lower court, for the massacre of 58 Dalits in Laxmanpur Bathe village in Jehanabad district 16 years ago.
"The government has decided to file an appeal against the High Court order in the Supreme Court," Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore told a news agency today.
A division bench comprising justices VN Sinha and AK Lal had yesterday absolved 26 persons of all charges for lack of evidence against them. The order was passed on appeals filed by them after they were convicted by the lower court.
Kishore said on perusal of the order, it was found that on "minor contradictions" the bench gave benefit of doubt to all accused and ordered their acquittal.
This opinion against the HC order was reached on the basis of views of the Law department and senior lawyers, he said, adding on this basis the state government decided to file an appeal in the apex court.
Suspected members of Ranveer Sena, the outlawed upper caste militia, had massacred 58 Dalits at Laxmanpur Bathe village on December 1, 1997.
In 2010, Additional District Judge Vijay Prakash Mishra had convicted 26 persons and awarded death sentence to 16 of them and life term to the remaining 10, after finding them guilty in the mass massacre.
The convicts had subsequently filed appeals in the Patna High Court challenging the order.
The CPI-ML has also reacted strongly against the acquittal and blamed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for it. The party is observing protests today.