Historical Decision – Quashing a LC order HC extends life term for 24 more Jihadis
Marad massacre: HC awards life term for 24 more
VR Jayaraj | Kochi – Daily Pioneer
The Kerala High Court on Thursday rejected the appeal of the 63 convicts in the Marad massacre case seeking quashing of a lower court order awarding them jail term. The High Court partially accepted a Government plea seeking harsher punishment to the accused by sentencing 24 of the 76 persons acquitted by the trial court to life imprisonment.
The case pertains to the massacre of eight Hindus at Marad fishing village near Beypore harbor in Kozhikode district on May 2, 2003. The Special Marad Court, where the trial in the case was held, had on January 15, 2009 sentenced 62 of the total 139 accused to life imprisonment and one to five-year jail term.
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices M Sasidharan Nambiar and P Bhavadasan on Thursday also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each on the 24 persons who were newly awarded life-term in prison. The bench asked them to surrender before the trial court in Kozhikode before August 24.
With this, the total number of persons convicted in the Marad massacre case went up to 87. However, the division bench refused to grant the Prosecution’s request for transforming the life imprisonment awarded to 13 into death sentence and to change the life term given to 42 into 30-year imprisonment.
The bench refused to award death sentence saying that the case did not fall in the “rarest of the rare” category. Still, the Prosecution termed the verdict historic. “It’s a historic judgement. This is the first time the court has punished such a large number of persons who were once acquitted,” said Special Public Prosecutor P Vijayabhanu.
The accused had been charged under provisions concerning murder, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, Explosives Act and Arms Act. A Muslim named Asghar Ali had also lost life in the May 2, 2003 incident, often described as a sequel to the January, 2002 riot in which five persons were killed.
The special court had awarded life term to 62 on seven different charges. The 63rd convict, Lateef, 139th accused in the case and secretary of the then Marad mosque committee, was sentenced to five years simple imprisonment and Rs 2,000 as fine for misusing places of worship for keeping weapons.
According to the special court, the Prosecution had failed to prove the most cardinal allegation about conspiracy behind the massacre under Section 120 (B) of the IPC. The Prosecution’s allegations against the accused under Explosives Act and the Arms Act also were found insufficient.
The failure of the Prosecution to prove the charge of conspiracy had emboldened the supporters of the accused to claim that even the Judiciary had viewed the Marad 2 incident on May 2, 2003 as a mere response to Marad 1, the riots that took place on January 3-4, 2002 in which five persons were killed.
The Judicial Commission which probed the 2003 massacre at Marad had recommended a high-level probe by a Central agency into the aspects of larger conspiracy, external involvement and sources of funds. However, the Centre had refused to launch such an investigation despite repeated appeals from the part of Kerala.
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