Dispur plea against acquittal of 4

Guwahati, Jan. 9: The Assam government has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in Gauhati High Court challenging the acquittal of four accused in the GS Road molestation case by the court of chief judicial magistrate, Kamrup.

"The SLP (number 194360) was filed in the high court seeking special permission to be heard in appeal against acquittal of the four accused by the CJM court," an official source in the judicial department of the state government said.

The four accused who were acquitted by the trial court giving them benefit of doubt because of "lack of evidence" are TV reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog, Jitumoni Deka and Diganta Basumatary, both salesmen in a liquor shop, and Hafijuddin, a daily wage earner.

The source said public prosecutor Z. Kamar had filed the SLP recently following the state government's decision to challenge the CJM court's order. Earlier, chief minister Tarun Gogoi had expressed dissatisfaction over the acquittal of the four accused.

"The high court will decide whether to admit or reject the SLP after a judicial scrutiny of the petition, which is likely to be made after Magh Bihu. The court will remain closed from January 12 to 20 on account of Magh Bihu," the source said.

He, however, refused to disclose on what ground(s) the state government will challenge the acquittal of the four accused.

On December 7 last year, the CJM of Kamrup, Siddhartha Pratim Moitra, had convicted 11 of the 16 accused in the case, including prime accused Amarjyoti Kalita, on four counts, including outraging the modesty of a woman.

Besides Kalita, the other accused held guilty are Dipak Deb, Rubul Ali, Sikandar Basfor, Nabajyoti Baruah, Debo Das, Rup Kanta Kalita, Ghanashyam Mallik, Puspendra Das, Nabajyoti Deka and Dhanraj Basfor.

One of the accused was a juvenile. He will be tried by the Juvenile Justice Board.

To bring home the charge, the prosecution examined altogether 24 witnesses and also exhibited a large numbers of documents. The CJM sentenced those convicted to rigorous imprisonment for two years and also imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 each.

The incident had created a nationwide outrage after the girl's molestation by a group of people outside a bar on July 9 last year was aired by a local satellite TV channel and later uploaded on YouTube.

The government had constituted a special investigation team, headed by superintendent of police (operations) Ranjan Bhuyan, which submitted the chargesheet on September 4, 2012 in which 16 persons were named as accused.

The CJM, in his order, said the allegation against Neog of uttering vulgar and obscene words towards the victim could not be proved.

"I find that the prosecution has failed to prove who uttered those words towards the victim girl. The video footage exhibited in this case is also not sufficient to ascertain the words which were used against her," the order said.

"The report of Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, also could not ascertain the same. The other witnesses remained silent about uttering of any obscene or vulgar words towards her. In view of the above facts, I find it just to give the accused persons the benefit of doubt and hold them not guilty for the offence," it added.

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