Mumbai: Twenty-six years after an activist was murdered for fighting a battle against the land mafia of Vasai-Virar belt in neighbouring Thane district, the Bombay High Court has ordered a fresh probe.
The real culprits were not put on trial and instead a wrong accused was put behind the bars, the court said.
Yadav Mhatre, actively involved in the welfare of the Adivasis (tribals), was killed on June 29, 1987 allegedly at the behest of the land mafia. Police had arrested a wrong person named Dilip Tumbda who was finally acquitted by the Sessions Court in 2009 after spending 22 years in jail.
On the other hand, eight persons of a family who were named accused by the victim`s family were discharged by the court after police filed an application seeking their release on the ground that evidence against them was deficient.
The High Court observed, "Real culprits were being shielded although they are named by the prosecution. The criminal case, therefore, could not have been disposed of perfunctorily and hastily and without application of mind, when the allegations are as serious as of causing murder.
"These are not routine and ordinary criminal cases involving petty offences. The aspect of delay, though material, is not always fatal. The administration of justice can never become a casualty. Even after delay, if real culprits are brought before the court, thereafter the Courts cannot become a silent spectator and dispose of criminal cases casually and light heartedly," Justice S Dharmadhikari said.
The judgement rendered in this court, therefore, falls short of the required standards. It has resulted in serious miscarriage of justice.
"In the Sessions Case, where the material placed before the court show that the real accused were not apprehended, arrested and put up for trial, then, the learned Judge should have been cautious and careful in evaluating the material," Justice Dharmadhikari remarked.