New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a judgment of the Kerala High Court confirming the life sentence awarded by the Thiruvananthapuram Sessions Court to four RSS activists on charges of murdering a helper at a mosque in Kesavadasapuram.
A Bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice A.K. Mathur ordered the acquittal of the four accused at the conclusion of elaborate arguments from their counsel Sushil Kumar and K.T.S. Tulsi, who assailed the High Court judgment.The Bench referred to the submissions and said that the prosecution had relied on the statement of only one witness, who had given this statement two months after the occurrence of the incident. The Bench said that the counsel had stated that the witness was in hospital for about two months and there was no evidence on record to show that he was unconscious and was not in a position to give a statement.
The Bench held that the statement of this witness "becomes doubtful and it is not possible to rely on his statement" and set aside the impugned judgment. The prosecution case was that the murder was committed by the accused on July 20, 1992. They trespassed into the mosque at 4 a.m. and assaulted those who were sleeping inside and Abul Salam who sustained serious injuries died at the hospital. In all 11 accused faced trial. The trial court awarded life imprisonment to five accused, holding them guilty of the charge of murder and acquitted six others.
On appeal, the High Court confirmed the conviction in respect of four RSS activists and set aside the conviction and sentence awarded to the eighth accused in the case, Sasidharan Pillai. The accused whose conviction was confirmed – Sreekantan Nair, Anilkumar, Sivadasan, and Vikraman Nair – preferred special leave petitions in the apex court seeking to set aside the judgment. They contended that the High Court ought to have held that non-conducting of test identification parade was fatal to the case of the prosecution since the accused were not known to any of the witnesses.
Moreover, none of the accused was arrested at the scene of occurrence. It must be noted that the incident occurred in 1992 and the trial commenced and concluded in 2002. All the witnesses were examined after nearly 10 years and it was hard to believe that the prosecution witnesses remembered the accused in the absence of an identification parade.They also contended that there was no evidence to show that they belonged to the RSS and that they committed the offence after the communal riots because no such communal riots took place.