1999 Senari massacre: SC agrees to hear Bihar govt plea against 13 acquittals

New Delhi, July 12: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a Bihar government appeal challenging a Patna High Court judgment, which set free 13 people convicted in the infamous in Senari massacre in 1999.

A bench comprising of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari admitted the appeal by the Bihar government for consideration and asked the state to serve notice on all acquitted accused persons.

Out of 13 accused, 10 were sentenced to death by trial court in the two-decade old massacre of 34 upper-caste persons by cadre of banned Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).

The state government in its appeal said the prosecution which found favour with the trial court, was that the accused belonged to the lower caste extremist outfit MCC and had carried out the vicious attack against unarmed and defenceless members of the upper caste.

The attack was carried with a view to establish their supremacy and it was a fallout of the unfortunate caste-based conflicts that ravaged the state during a dark period of its history.

"The case of the prosecution is supported by a total of 23 witnesses out of which 13 are eyewitnesses who lost their near family in the mass carnage and includes 3 injured witnesses," said the state government in the appeal filed through advocate Abhinav Mukerji.

In May 2021, the high court had set aside the judgment of a trial court and acquitted 13 accused. The state government argued the findings of the high court are contrary to the evidence placed on record and the law declared by this Hon'ble Court on various principles of law. "It is submitted that the High Court discarded the testimony of the 13 persons who are eye-witnesses including injured witnesses of the event primarily on erroneous grounds," the state government contended.

In November 2016, the Jehanabad district court had sentenced 10 persons to death and awarded life imprisonment to three others, and acquitted 23 others, due to lack of evidence.

According to the prosecution on March 18, 1999, alleged MCC members forced 34 people, belonging to the upper caste Bhumihar community, to line up near a temple at Senari village and killed them by slitting their throats and shooting them.

The state government submitted that the evidence clearly proves that the accused persons were present and actively participating in the carnage and specific acts also stood ascribed to them.

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