2010 ALL MR (Cri) 1505


Shivaji S/O. Bhagoji Mali Vs. State Of Maharashtra

Criminal Appeal No.113 of 2009,Criiminal Appeal No.114 of 2009,Criiminal Appeal No.129 of 2009,Criiminal Appeal No.130 of 2009,Criiminal Appeal No.131 of 2009, Criiminal Appeal No.150 of 2009

18th February, 2010

Petitioner Counsel: Shri. R. S. DESHMUKH
Respondent Counsel: Shri. K. M. SURYAWANSHI

Evidence Act (1872), S.3 - Appreciation of evidence - Case based on circumstantial evidence - Circumstances not of such a nature as to prove guilt of accused beyond reasonable doubt - Identification of accused also doubtful - Accused entitled to benefit of doubt. 2008 ALL SCR 1833 and AIR 1994 S.C. 2585 - Ref. to. (Para 20)

Cases Cited:
Jarnail Singh Vs. State of Punjab, (2009)3 SCC 391 [Para 12]
Chuhar Singh Vs. State of Haryana, (1976)1 SCC 879 [Para 12]
State of Maharashtra Vs. Sukhdeo Singh, AIR 1992 SC 2100 [Para 13]
Tarseem Kumar Vs. The Delhi Administration, AIR 1994 SC 2585 [Para 18]
Venkatesan Vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2008 ALL SCR 1833 : (2008)8 SCC 456 [Para 18]


JUDGMENT :- All these appeals arise out of a common judgment and order of conviction and sentence passed by the IInd Additional Sessions Judge, Osmanabad, in Sessions Case No.30 of 2008, decided on 17.02.2009. All these appellants are original accused Nos.1 to 8 in the said sessions case. They are convicted of offences punishable under sections 147, 148, 304, Part-II read with 149 of the Indian Penal Code (for short "I.P.C.") and section 367 read with section 149 of the I.P.C.. For offence punishable under section 147 of the I.P.C., each of the accused is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay fine of Rs.500/-, in default, to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one month. For offence punishable under section 148 of the I.P.C. each of the accused is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default, to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two months. For offence punishable under section 304, Part-II read with section 149 of the I.P.C. each of the accused is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for seven years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two months. For offence punishable under section 367 read with 149 of the I.P.C., each of the accused is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for seven years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two months.

2. Brief facts giving rise to these appeals may be stated as below :-

Deceased Uttam Gemu Rathod was residing at Ekambi Tanda, Tal.-Ausa, Dist.-Latur. He was working as a Labour Contractor. For the season of the year 2007-2008 he had entered into contract with Terna Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana, Dhoki, for providing labourers for sugarcane cutting and had taken advance of Rs.1,75,000/-. However, as per the contract, deceased Uttam had not provided labourers and therefore it is stated that original accused No.6 Manik Rathod and his associates were searching deceased Uttam for sometime.

3. It is further prosecution case that on 23.12.2007 Abasaheb Chavan, who was cousin of deceased Uttam wanted to purchase she-buffalo. Therefore, P.W.3-Abasaheb Chavan along with deceased Uttam went on a motor-cycle to Patoda. However, they did not approve any she-buffalo and therefore they were returning back to village Ekabi Tanda. On way back they stopped at Somani Petrol Pump at Ujni at about 2.00 p.m. for filling petrol in the motor-cycle. At that time accused No.6 Manik and his son Ramesh (who was later on identified as accused No.7 - Bibhishan), accused No.8 Shivaji Mali and two more persons came to the petrol pump in black and yellow jeep bearing No.MH-25-B-607. Three out of them had sticks in their hands. They came to the place where P.W.3-Abasaheb and deceased Uttam were standing and started abusing and beating Uttam. At that time one white tracks jeep bearing No.MH-24/1559 came. From said jeep accused No.4 - Shivaji, accused No.6 Sahebkhan Pathan, accused no.1 Sugriv and accused No.5 Dilip alighted. On seeing those persons, Uttam started running away. When P.W.3-Abasaheb tried to intervene, he was abused and manhandled. Uttam went into Tur crop, adjoining the petrol pump. The accused persons chased him and brought him back and put him in the white trax jeep. Ramesh (who was later on identified as accused No.7 Bibhishan) and accused No.1 Sugriv pressed down his neck with stick. They were asking Uttam why he had duped them and they were also beating him. Both jeeps went away. The incident was seen by Baburao Bidve and Subhash Randiwe. Thereafter, P.W.3-Abasaheb tried to inform about the incident to his father, but he could not contact. Therefore, he went to Ekabi Tanda and told the incident to his father and also wife of Uttam. Other relatives gathered. At about 4.30 p.m., he received phone message from police that Uttam had died and his dead-body was at Dhoki. P.W.3-Abasaheb and other relatives went to Primary Health Centre (P.H.C.) Dhoki where the dead-body of Uttam was lying. There was injuries on the dead-body. Thereafter, P.W.3-Abasaheb lodged the complaint as stated above.

4. It is further prosecution case that P.W.1 - Dr. Madhukar Panchal was working as Medical Officer at Primary Health Centre, (P.H.C.) Dhoki and he was present in the P.H.C. at about 3.45 p.m. on 23.12.2007. A white tracks jeep bearing No.MH-25/1559 came to the P.H.C. and 23 unidentified persons took out a dead-body from the jeep and kept it inside P.H.C. on a cot and started going away. So, Dr. Panchal followed them. Those persons boarded the jeep and went away. The doctor noted number of the jeep. When he came back, he found that body was of a dead person and therefore he informed police in writing. So, police came and thereafter on identification of the dead-body, they contacted relatives of deceased Uttam.

5. Police sent the dead-body for post-mortem. Dr. Hambire (P.W.2) who was Medical Officer at Civil Hospital, Osmanabad, performed post-mortem. He found following ten injuries on the dead-body of Uttam :

(1) Contusion on back left supra scapular region 3 cm x 1.5 cm.

(2) Contusion left supra scapular region, extending to right side obliquely 20 cm x 3 cm.

(3) Contusion "Y" shaped on right infra scapular region. Placed obliquely. Short arm 8 cm x 2 cm. Long arm of injury 14 cm x 2 cm.

(4) Contusion on lower back right side oblique extending to left. 18 cm x 2 cm.

(5) Contusion irregular left gluteal region (near buttock) 13 cm x 6 cm.

(6) Contusion left arm interiorly - 7 cm x 6 cm and contusion left below joint and forearm 10 cm x 2 cm.

(7) Contusion on right shoulder 8 cm x 3 cm.

(8) Contusion on right forearm. Irregular, 7 cm x 3 cm.

(9) Contusion right tibial tuberosity (a projection below the knee) 3 cm x 2 cm. Left tibial tuberosity 2 cm x 2 cm.

(10) Contusion on nose, no fracture.

The doctor further found on internal examination that there was subgaleal haemetoma. There was no fracture of skull, but death was due to intra cranial hemorrhage due to head injury with multiple injuries. The post-mortem notes are at Exh.44. As per the doctor the external injuries were possible with sticks. They were of simple in nature. The hemorrhage was secondary to head injury.

6. Thereafter, police carried out other investigation, recorded statement of various witnesses and arrested all the accused. As per prosecution case, accused Nos.1 and 3 were working as Watchmen in Terna Co-operative Sugar Factory. Accused No.4 was working as Agricultural Assistant, accused No.5 was driver of jeep No.MH-25/1559, accused No.2 was driver of jeep No.MH-25/B-607, accused Nos.6 was relative of Uttam and contractor and accused No.7 had remained surety for Uttam and was also son of accused No.6. Accused No.8 was owner of the contract which was engaged by the sugar factory for transport of sugarcane.

7. The prosecution in all examined 23 witnesses. Out of them about 10 witnesses supported the prosecution case and all other turned hostile. Relying on the evidence of the witnesses, who supported the prosecution case, the order of conviction and sentence is passed. The main evidence against the accused is of P.W.3-Abasaheb. The witnesses, namely, P.W.5-Champabai Rathod, wife of deceased Uttam, P.W.7-Arjun Sherkhane, P.W.8-Rajkumar Lomate, P.W.10-Umakant Bardapure, P.W.11-Yogiraj Walke, P.W.14-Tanaji Shendge, P.W.15-Mahesh Suryawanshi, P.W.16-Sushil Vibhute, P.W.17-Mustafa Shaikh, P.W.18-Ameerkhan Pathan and P.W.19-Jilani Vastad have turned hostile and did not support the prosecution case.

8. P.W.1-Dr. Panchal is Medical Officer, P.H.C. Dhoki. He deposed at Exh.41 that on 23.12.2007 at about 3.45 p.m. he was present in the P.H.C. Dhoki as a Medical Officer. At that time jeep bearing No.MH-25/1559 came. 2-3 unidentified persons took a dead body from the jeep and kept it inside the P.H.C. on a bed. So, he went near the body for examining. At that time the persons who brought the dead-body started going away. So, P.W.1-Dr. Panchal came out. At that time he noted number of the jeep in which those persons boarded and went away. P.W.1-Dr. Panchal came back and ascertained that the person brought was dead. He immediately informed police by his report at Exh.42. Absolutely, there is no reason to disbelieve P.W.1-Dr. Panchal, so far as this part of the evidence is concerned. He further stated that he had seen carefully one of those 3-4 unidentified persons and he identified accused No.1 as one of these persons who had brought the dead body. There is nothing in the cross-examination of P.W.1-Dr. Panchal to disbelieve his evidence. He stated that he noted number of the vehicle on his palm and then whote on the case-paper. He also admitted in para 5 that he was not knowing accused No.1 previously, but the unique incident was such that a person would not forget it. The fact also remained that no test identification parade is held in this case and the identification is for the first time in the Court on 09.09.2008. The evidence of P.W.1-Dr. Panchal atmost proves that accused No.1 was one of the persons who had brought dead body to the P.H.C. and then went away without saying anything.

9. In this case there is only one witness viz. P.W.3-Abasaheb Chavan who had seen the culprits and who supported the prosecution case. All other persons who were examined regarding the main incident that took place at Somani Petrol Pump at Ujni have turned hostile. They include a hotel owner, two servants on the petrol pump and the land owner in whose Tur crop Uttam is said to have run for saving himself. But all these persons turned hostile. Baburao and Subhash both resident of Ujni, whose names are appearing in the F.I.R. as persons who witnessed the incident are not examined by the prosecution.

10. So far as evidence of P.W.3-Abasaheb at Exh.49 is concerned, he was in two minds whether he should support the prosecution or defence and in the process he had to be declared hostile by the prosecution. His statement needs to be reproduced at length to consider worth of his statement. P.W.3-Abasaheb stated that deceased Uttam was his cousin. Both of them had gone to Patoda on the motor-cycle of Uttam with intention to purchase she-buffalo, but they did not approve any she-buffalo and while returning back, they came to Somani Petrol Pump, Ujni at about 2.00 p.m. At that time eight unidentified persons came to that spot in two jeeps. One of them was white tracks and other was black yellow coloured jeep. Persons from both the jeeps came to the petrol pump. They beat Uttam. They held shirt of Uttam and jostled with him. They also manhandled P.W.3-Abasaheb. Those persons lifted Uttam, put him in the jeep. Then P.W.3-Abasaheb went to Ekambi Tanda and informed villagers. So, in para 3 the witness does not say that he identified any of the accused person. He does not say that any one of them was known to him. The witness further said that thereafter he received phone call from A.S.I. regarding death of Uttam. Therefore, they went to P.H.C. Dhoki at about 6.00 p.m.. Therefore, he lodged report. He, however, said that the contents of the report are true. He proved complaint at Exh.15. He further said that on next date, he took police to the petrol pump. Police drew spot-panchanama. Thereafter, in para 3, P.W.3-Abasaheb said that accused Nos.1 to 8 persons in the Court were same persons who had come to the petrol pump and took away Uttam. He, however, denied that police recorded his statement on 24.12.2007. Thereafter, learned A.P.P. declared P.W.3-Abasaheb hostile. The learned A.P.P. was also allowed to put questions in the nature of cross-examination. In para 7, P.W.3-Abasaheb stated that he was not knowing whether accused No.6 - Manik has two sons, namely, accused No.7 Bibhishan and Ramesh. Then he denied that by mistake he had given name of eye-witness as Subhash Randive instead of Subhash Kale. He denied that instead of accused No.7 - Bibhishan, he wrongly gave name of Ramesh. He denied statement portion marked "A" from his statement. In cross-examination (in para 8) the witness denied that three of the accused persons were armed with sticks and they got down from the jeep at the petrol pump. The witness said that only accused No.1 was armed with stick. Then P.W.3-Abasaheb stated that none of the muddemal sticks before the Court, were held by the accused on that day. So, the witness did not identify muddemal articles as the articles used in the crime.

11. In the cross-examination by accused person, P.W.3-Abasaheb gave several admissions, which are detrimental to his earlier statement. He stated that except accused Nos.6 and 7, who were residents of Shiradhon, he was not knowing residences of other accused. He was not knowing if there was any money transaction between accused No.1 and Uttam or if Uttam had sought advance from factory. He further specifically stated that he was not knowing accused No.1 previously and he had not seen him earlier. So, this admission clearly shows that witness Abasaheb was not knowing accused No.1 prior to the incident. No test identification parade was held. P.W.3-Abasaheb also admitted that he was not knowing if Uttam had any cross terms with accused No.1. He also stated that he had not told names of accused persons to Police while lodging complaint. So, he denied the material portion from his complaint. However, he denied in same breath that accused No.1 was not concerned with the said incident. In para 10 it is stated by P.W.3-Abasaheb that there were several vehicles at the petrol pump. He could not tell from which jeep accused had got down. He was also not knowing whether driver of the black and yellow jeep had alighted. He was not knowing number of that jeep as he was not able to read and still we find numbers of both jeeps in the F.I.R. In further cross-examination P.W.3-Abasaheb stated that he had not narrated the complaint to police, but police simply asked him to sign on the report. He denied that he was unable to identify person who had taken away Uttam but at the same time said that he was not knowing those persons previously. He had not seen those persons after the incident. No identification parade was held by police. Then he admitted that for the first time in the Court he was claiming that the accused were same persons who had taken away Uttam. In para 12 of his cross-examination P.W.3-Abasaheb stated that about 25-30 persons had gathered at the petrol pump. After the trouble started, he went away. So, it is doubtful whether he had seen entire evidence and particularly Uttam being taken away in the jeep. He specifically admitted that he was not knowing accused Nos.4 and 5 previously. He stated that he had asked employees at the petrol pump to ring to police. He further said that till Dhoki police had called him, he had not informed the incident to anyone. Then he further stated in para 13 that he was not knowing accused Nos. 6 and 7 and had not seen them previously. He also stated that there was total confusion and he did not know which of the accused had actually lifted Uttam. So, if we consider above said deposition, hardly we can say that here is a person who can be relied upon to base conviction.

12. The learned advocate Shri. R. N. Dhorde relied upon case of Jarnail Singh Vs. State of Punjab, (2009)3 S.C.C. 391. In para 26 of the said case, it is laid down by the Supreme Court that conviction can be based on sole testimony of a solitary eyewitness but in order to be the basis of conviction his presence at the place of occurrence has to be natural and his testimony should be strong and reliable and free from any blemish. The Supreme Court also referred to the ratio laid down in the case of Chuhar Singh Vs. State of Haryana, (1976)1 SCC 879, in which it is stated that what is important is not how many witnesses have been examined by the prosecution but what is the nature and quality of evidence on which it relies. The evidence of a single witness may sustain a sentence of death whereas a host of vulnerable witnesses may fail to support a simple charge of "hurt". In this case, we cannot say evidence of P.W.3-Abasaheb is strong and reliable and free from any blemish. He has in one breath tried to favour the prosecution and in another breath he tried to help the accused. He was not sure of anything in his deposition. Moreover, P.W.3-Abasaheb stated that he was not knowing accused persons prior to the incident and that for the first time he had identified accused persons in the Court. The question arises whether in absence of test identification parade, his evidence could be relied.

13. In the case of State of Maharashtra Vs. Sukhdeo Singh and Anr., AIR 1992 S.C. 2100, the following observations are made by the supreme Court :

"25. .......... As pointed out earlier the direct evidence regarding identity of the culprits comprises of (i) identification for the first time after a lapse of considerable time in Court or (ii) identification at a test identification parade. In the case of total strangers, it is not safe to place implicit reliance on the evidence of witnesses who had just a fleeting glimpse of the person identified or who had no particular reason to remember the person concerned, if the identification is made for the first time in Court. In the present case it was all the more difficult as indisputably the accused persons had since changed their appearance. Test identification parade, if held promptly and after taking the necessary precautions to ensure its creditability, would lend the required assurance which the court ordinarily seeks to act on it. In the absence of such test identification parade it would be extremely risky to place implicit reliance on identification made for the first time in Court after a long lapse of time and that too of persons who had changed their appearance. We, therefore, think that the learned trial judge was perfectly justified in looking for corroboration. In Kanan & Ors. Vs. State of Kerala, [1979] SCC 621 this Court speaking through Murtaza Fazal Ali, J. observed :

"It is well settled that where a witness identifies an accused who is not known to him in the Court for the first time, his evidence is absolutely valueless unless there has been a previous T.I. parade to test his powers of observations. The idea of holding T.I. parade under Section 9 of the Evidence Act is to test the veracity of the witness on the question of his capability to identify an unknown person whom the witness may have seen only once. If no T.I. parade is held then it will be wholly unsafe to rely on his testimony regarding the identification of an accused for the first time in Court."

We are in respectful agreement with the aforequoted observations."

14. So, we will have to seek independent corroboration to the evidence of P.W.3-Abasaheb before the accused persons could be convicted and in this case, same is totally missing as there is no other evidence regarding the incident that took place at Somani Petrol Pump, Ujni. We may refer to other evidence.

15. P.W.4-Gautam Rathod examined at Exh.51 is a person who stated that he was knowing accused No.6-Manik. Deceased Uttam had entered into contract with the factory for supplying labourers for sugarcane cutting. Talks were held with accused No.6 Manik Rathod and accused No.8 - Shivaji Mali in that respect in his presence. His brother Uttam told him that he was to receive Rs.1,75,000/-. On the day of incident, he received phone call of his brother Udhav that Uttam was murdered. P.W.4-Gautam Rathod is younger brother of deceased Uttam. There is no dispute that deceased Uttam had entered into labour contract with the sugar factory.

16. P.W.6-Khemu Rathod is also uncle of Uttam. He also stated about labour contract which Uttam had entered into with the sugar factory. He stated that Uttam had told him that Uttam brought Rs.25,000/- from accused Nos.6 & 8 for supplying labour for the tractor of accused No.8. Uttam did not provide labour as per the agreement. Eight days before the incident accused Nos.6 and 8 had come to Ekambi Tanda. They demanded the money back to Uttam. At that time P.W.6-Khemu told accused Nos.6 and 8 that he accepted responsibility to see that Uttam repaid the amount. Uttam, however, had said that he had no money and he would pay the money later on. P.W.6-Khemu further stated that on the day of incident accused Nos. 6 and 8 had come to Patoda market on a motor-cycle. He was also present at the market at about 910 a.m. and at that time Uttam and P.W.3-Abasaheb had come to market. They took lunch at Dhaba. One Dattu who was neither accused nor witness, rang up the persons from Shiradhon and told that after the lunch Uttam would start and thereafter he would give ring and they should wait at the petrol pump. He heard said conversation entered into by Dattu and went towards the hotel. He asked Uttam and P.W.3-Abasaheb to return to the village and Uttam and P.W.3-Abasaheb went away. Later on P.W.4-Gautam rang him and told him that Uttam was taken away by persons from Shiradhon. This witness met P.W.10-Umakant, who told him that Uttam was assaulted by some persons and was taken in the vehicle, but that was his hearsay evidence. Thereafter, he received phone call from Bhada police station regarding death of Uttam. Cross-examination of this witness in para 8 clearly shows that he has improved his statement to a great extent. Thus he has not stated before police that eight days before the incident accused Nos.6 and 8 had approached Uttam. He had not told police that Uttam went to hotel for having lunch. He did not state before police that Dattu told a person from Shiradhon on phone that he would give ring after Uttam left and they should come to petrol pump. He also did not state before police that Gautam rang him and told him that Uttam was taken away by persons from Shiradhon. He also did not state that he went to Ujni by rickshaw and or Umakant told him that the very persons assaulted Uttam and took him away in vehicle. The entire statement of P.W.6-Khemu is nothing but improvement. It may be noted that he is uncle of deceased Uttam. Moreover, in cross-examination P.W.6-Khemu stated that he had no personal knowledge regarding agreement between Uttam and accused Nos.6 & 8. He was not knowing accused No.8 previously. In para 7, he stated that in the cattle market of Patoda, there was lot of rush. He met Uttam and Abasaheb at about 11.00 to 11.30 a.m. They were there for about one hour. Dattu met him when Abasaheb and Uttam had left. Dattu was talking on telephone for about five minutes. He could not hear what Dattu was speaking as he was at distance of 20 ft.. He further stated that he met Uttam and Abasaheb at the hotel at about 10.00 a.m. After about 1 hour he hold them to go towards the village. The witness denied having stated portion marked "A" before police, which is to the effect that Vithal Fulchand Rathod of village Ekambi Tanda asked Dattu, if Uttam and Abasaheb were present and Dattu answered him that they were present and were taking lunch in the hotel and after saying so, Dattu went away. So, the evidence of P.W.6-Khemu cannot be trusted in view of the improvements made by him and in view of portion marked "A" with which his evidence is contradictory.

17. P.W.12-Dhanraj Rathod proved spot panchanama. P.W.13-Balbhim proved inquest panchanama. P.W.20-Shrihari Gaikwad examined at Exh.91 was agricultural officer of Terna Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana who proved order of advance to and agreement at Exhs.92 and 93 with deceased Uttam and agreement Exh.94 between the sugar factory and accused No.8. P.W.21-Dattatraya Jamdade is Managing Director of Terna Co-operative Sugar Factory, who stated that jeep No.MH-25/A-1559 was hired by the sugar factory. He produced log book. He also said that accused Nos.1 and 3 were working as Watchmen. P.W.22-P.S.I. Bhange who invested the case has stated about the evidence. P.W.23-Chaudhari had signed the charge-sheet and had collected 7/12 extract of the place of offence.

18. The Trial Court summed up its conclusion in para 60 onwards of the judgment. The learned advocate for the accused relied upon case of Tarseem Kumar Vs. The Delhi Administration, AIR 1994 S.C. 2585, in which it is laid down that in a case based on circumstantial evidence, motive for committing crime on the part of accused assumes greater importance. The learned advocate for the accused also relied upon case of Venkatesan Vs. State of Tamil Nadu, (2008)8 S.C.C. 456 : [2008 ALL SCR 1833], particularly para 8 onwards to show the law on the circumstantial evidence and also on last seen together theory.

19. It is observed by the learned Sessions Judge in para 60 of his judgment that accused No.8 had agreed to provide his tractor for transportation of sugarcane cut by the labourers at the fields of the farmers. There was tie up between Uttam and accused No.8 as stated by P.W.20-Shrihari Gaikwad. Accused No.8 had also taken amount of Rs.25,000/- and under the circumstances accused No.8 had grudge against deceased Uttam as he had lost the amount paid to Uttam so also business of the tractor. The sugar factory had also lost the advance made to Uttam as alternate arrangement had to be made by the factory. However, it is accused Nos.2 and 5 who had no reason to be there. It is said that their fault is not attempting to resist assault on Uttam or in not running away from the petrol pump. In this case, accused Nos.1 to 8 are coming from different backgrounds and it is not explained how all of them have common motive to form unlawful assembly. It is not that they were residing at same place, as can be seen from addresses given in the judgment. Accused persons were residing at different places. So far as P.W.3-Abasaheb is concerned, even though he turned hostile and did not support prosecution wholeheartedly and giving so many admissions in favour of accused, his evidence was believed.

20. Having considered judgment of the Trial Court and after giving careful consideration to the evidence on record, in my opinion, the evidence falls short for basing conviction in a criminal case. Evidence of P.W.3-Abasaheb is far from satisfactory. His evidence could not have been basis for conviction. There is no independent corroboration regarding the incident that took place at the petrol pump. It cannot be said that the circumstances proved in this case are of such a nature as to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Their identification is doubtful. In the circumstances, I prefer to give benefit of doubt to the accused and pass following order :

(i) Criminal Appeal Nos.113, 114, 129, 130, 131 & 150 of 2009 are allowed.

(ii) The order of conviction and sentence dated 17.02.2009 passed by the IInd Additional Sessions Judge, Osmanabad, in Sessions Case No.30 of 2008 is hereby set aside. The appellants from all these appeals are acquitted of offences with which they are charged. Original accused Nos.1 (Sugriv Dadarao Bondar) and original accused No.7 (Bibhishan Manik Rathod) who are in jail, be set at liberty, if not required in any other offence. The bail bonds executed by other accused stand cancelled. Fine amount, if paid, be refunded to the concerned appellants. The appeals are accordingly allowed.

Appeals allowed.