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SC issues notice on Assam govt plea against HC order acquitting accused in 2004 Dhemaji bomb blast case

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      13 January, 2024 06:31 PM      0 Comments
SC issues notice on Assam govt plea against HC order acquitting accused in 2004 Dhemaji bomb blast case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has decided to examine a plea by the Assam government, questioning validity of the Gauhati High Court's order which acquitted the accused in the case of August 15, 2004 Dhemaji district bomb blast case, that claimed lives of 10 children and three women.

A bench of Justices J K Maheshwari and Sudhanshu Dhulia issued notice on an appeal filed by the Assam government.

Assam's Additional Advocate General Nalin Kohli, along with advocates Ankit Roy, Nimisha Menon and Shruti Agarwal appeared for the state.

The court issued notice to the five accused, alleged members of ULFA, on the plea.

The high court on August 24, 2023, had set aside the trial court’s judgment of July 4, 2019 which had convicted five accused including ULFA members, and held them responsible for the incident.

The Assam government contended that the high court erroneously reversed the conviction of the respondents namely, Dipanjali Borgohain, Lila Gogoi, Jatin Dowari and Muhi Handique under Section 302 and Section 323 r/w Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 3(a) and 4(b) (i) of the Explosive Substances Act r/w Section 120-B IPC and Section 10(b)(i) and Section 13(1) (a) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA ) and another respondent, Hemen Gogoi under Section 10(a)(iv) and Section 13(2) of the UAPA.

“The High Court has erroneously reversed the conviction of the accused by rejecting the confessional statement of Jatin Dowari on the ground that the same was retracted, despite such retraction being after an inordinate delay of ten years,” the state government’s plea stated.

It also contended that the high court erred in discarding the confessional statement of Jatin Dowari on the basis that the statement was retracted subsequently.

“In this regard it is stated that the High Court erred in not considering that the confessional statement was recorded on October 12, 2004. Jatin Dowari retracted from his statement on February 26, 2019, after a prolonged delay of 15 years and therefore, was clearly an afterthought and ingenuine. As such, the said retraction was inconsequential to the credibility of the said confessional statement”, said the plea.

“This Court in Sanjay Dutt Vs State of Maharashtra, (2013) has held that due regard has to be given to the time gap between the confessional statement and the retraction. In case of prolonged delay, the same would amount to an afterthought and therefore such retraction would be immaterial," the plea said.

It also contended that the high court judgment incorrectly recorded that the confessional statement does not incriminate Jatin Dowari in any manner.

“A bare perusal of the said statement makes it clear that Jatin Dowari in criminal conspiracy acted and abetted the other Respondents in the planting of the bomb,” it claimed.

The plea also said the High Court did not take into account this crucial fact that two prosecution sanctions were duly submitted along with the charge-sheet and that no objection was raised by the accused respondents during the course of the trial and therefore any objection so raised at the appellate 
stage would be immaterial.

The bomb blast was triggered on August 15, 2004, during the Independence Day event at the Dhemaji college playground.



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