Court acquits man charged under Excise Act for possessing 36 beer bottles

A court has acquitted a man charged under the Delhi Excise Act for possessing 36 beer bottles, saying the prosecution was unable to provide any “cogent evidence” and that there was the possibility of the accused having been falsely implicated in the case.

The court was hearing a case against Mintu Choudhary, who was charged under section 33 of the Delhi Excise Act for possessing beer bottles without any permit or licence at Bijwasan in southwest Delhi on August 30, 2018.

Section 33 of the act describes the punishment for possessing any intoxicant beyond the prescribed quantity. According to rule 20 of the excise act, the maximum limit for individual possession is nine litres for Indian and foreign liquor (whisky, rum, gin, vodka, brandy), 18 litres for wine, beer, liqueur, cider and alcopop and three litres for country liquor.

“This court hereby accords the benefit of doubt to the accused for the offence under section 33 of the Delhi Excise Act and holds the accused not guilty of commission of the said offence. Accused Mintu Choudhary is thus, acquitted ,” Metropolitan Magistrate Apoorva Rana said in a recent judgment.

“This court is of the opinion that the prosecution has failed to bring on record any cogent evidence in order to prove the commission of and guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, thus, entitling the accused person to benefit of doubt and acquittal,” the magistrate added.

Noting the evidence before it, the court said the prosecution’s case was fraught with “multiple inconsistencies,” rendering its version “incredible.”

The prosecution had also failed to establish the possession of alcohol by the accused beyond the permissible limit, the court said, adding the omission of Choudhary’s name in the relevant daily diary (DD) entry, raised doubt over whether the proceedings were conducted on the spot or done in a mechanical manner at the police station itself.

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“… accused may have been falsely implicated in the present case In fact, this possibility of planted recovery upon the accused further gains strength from the fact that the police did not bother at all to discover the source of illicit liquor or to further enquire about the potential customers of the same,” the court said.

It said there was no explanation for how the FIR number surfaced on a document which was prepared prior to the registration of the case and this cast a “fatal doubt” on the prosecution’s case.

“… either the FIR was registered prior to the alleged recovery of the illicit liquor, or that the said documents were prepared later in point of time. In either of the scenarios, a dent is created in the version of the prosecution the benefit of which must accrue to the accused,” the court said.

It said the possibility of misuse of the seal and tampering with case property cannot be ruled out, and the non-joining of independent witnesses, even though such witnesses were easily available in the vicinity, made the prosecution’s version “highly doubtful.”

An FIR was registered against Choudhary at the Kapashera police station.

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