Patna HC sets aside conviction of 26 in Laxmanpur Bathe Dalit massacre case
The Patna High Court on Wednesday set aside the conviction of all 26 accused, 16 of whom were awarded death sentence by a lower court, for the massacre of 58 Dalits in Laxmanpur Bathe village in Bihar's Jehanabad district 16 years ago.
A Division Bench comprising Justices V N Sinha and A K Lal absolved all 26 persons of all the charges for lack of evidence against them. The order was passed on appeals filed by the 26 persons after they were convicted by the lower court.
"We are of the view that the prosecution witnesses are not reliable and so all the convicted persons are entitled for benefit of doubt," the Bench said and directed the release of all convicted persons forthwith.
Suspected members of Ranvir Sena, the outlawed upper caste militia, had massacred 58 Dalits at Laxmanpur Bathe village on December 1, 1997. In 2010, Additional District Judge Vijay Prakash Mishra had convicted 26 persons and awarded death sentence to 16 of them and life term to the remaining 10 after finding them guilty in the mass massacre.
The convicts subsequently filed appeals in the Patna High Court challenging the order.
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