NEW DELHI: Seven persons accused of disrupting the 1997 MCD elections by tearing ballot papers and rioting at various polling booths here have been acquitted by a Delhi court after the complainant and other prosecution witnesses failed to identify them.
Metropolitan Magistrate Sheetal Chaudhary Pradhan absolved Delhi residents Asif Namberdar, Asif Chaudhary, Yusuf, Naseem, Soech Danish, Owaish Mohammad Khan and Mohamad Jahangir of the charges including rioting and unlawful assembly under the IPC and provisions of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.
"The prosecution has miserably failed to substantiate the offences alleged against the accused persons since prima facie requirement of establishing the identity of the accused persons had been completed derailed.
"With this judgement, the trial of 17 years has come to end and the most glaring part of it is that, the 23 prosecution witnesses have given contradictory statements. The testimonies do not inspire confidence," the magistrate said.
The court added that their testimonies were narrated in a "parrot fashion" while observing that the witnesses have said that rioting took place at various polling booths including the Okhla primary school and Jamia Milia Islamia, by the same persons which was not possible.
"The same shows it to be highly improbable to my mind since the alleged accused persons could not have been present, at the same time in different places together to commit the offence stated to be rioting," it said.
The court acquitted them of the offences under sections 147(rioting), 149(unlawful assembly), 186(obstructing public servant in discharge of duty), 353(assaulting to deter public servant from discharging his duty) of IPC and under provisions of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.
According to the prosecution, during Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election on December 23, 1997, Ram Kumar Dahiya, who was the presiding officer at a polling station in Okhla Primary School here, lodged a complaint that some persons reached the booth, snatched and tore ballot papers besides destroying property.
It was alleged that they prevented the public servants, including police officials on duty, from discharging their official functions.
Police had filed the charge sheet in the case on December 21, 1999.