Maharashtra: Court Acquits Five Men Booked in 2010 Under MCOCA for Absence of Independent Witness

A court in Maharashtra’s Thane has acquitted five persons being tried under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in an alleged robbery and assault case, stating that the prosecution failed to examine any independent witness and relied solely on the evidence of police and the confessional statements of the accused.

Special court judge Amit M Shete, in his order passed on Tuesday, acquitted the accused by giving them the benefit of doubt and directed that they be released immediately unless required in any other case.

The prosecution told the court that the incident had occurred on February 3, 2010 night, when the victim – a driver – was returning from Dahisar by road. He made a halt near a temple and stepped out for a while. When he returned to the car, the accused persons assaulted him. They pushed him into the car and drove it away. But fell off the running vehicle and suffered injuries.

The accused, who are in the age group of 40 to 47, were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the MCOCA for voluntarily causing hurt, robbery, conspiracy to commit organised crime, it said.

In the order, the judge said, “It is required to mention that the prosecution in order to establish the guilt of the accused, examined all 14 witnesses who are police officials (including the sanctioning officer). The prosecution placed heavy reliance on the confessional statements of the accused. The prosecution, except the evidence through police officials, failed to produce any independent evidence.”

The evidence brought on record cannot be easily brushed aside. However, considering the serious offence and the prescribed punishment coupled with the ratio laid down in the case of Sanjay Dutt, some corroboration is required, the court said.

“The prosecution witnesses precisely failed on the said count and thus, the prosecution witnesses can be said to have failed to prove the guilt of the accused persons beyond all reasonable doubt. Therefore, the accused are required to be acquitted as there is no other way out,” it said.

The court ordered that since the sixth accused in the case is still absconding, his chargesheet be filed after his arrest.

While Sanjay More was the special public prosecutor in the case, Anuradha Pardeshi and Sunil J Patankar appeared for the accused.

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