SC clears Chisti of murder, says free to return to Pak
- Spot-fixing: Chandila was in touch with four sets of bookies, says Delhi Police
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives, to hold talks with PM on boundary, water issues
- IPL 2013: Delhi Daredevils crash to defeat, finish last
- Jaganmohan's wife attacks CBI, accuses it of working at Congress behest
- Blast accused death: UP govt seeks CBI probe, FIR against 42 persons
While exonerating him of the penal charge of acting in concert in what the court described as a "free fight" situation, where two sides came armed and fought each other, a bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi upheld Chisti's punishment for voluntarily causing hurt under Section 324 of the IPC for his "individual act" of reportedly using a sword in the fight. The maximum punishment under this penal charge is three years in jail, with or without fine.
"Taking note of his age and of the fact that he was in custody for roughly one year and four months, we feel that the ends of justice would be met by altering the sentence to the period already undergone. The conviction and sentence are modified," noted the Bench. Two other co-accused — Yasir Chisti and Akil Chisti — were also cleared of murder charge. All of them were held guilty only of causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
Chisti said he thanked Allah the moment he was told about the verdict. "I thank the Supreme Court of India for getting justice to me by a fair and honest judgment. I have never lied to the court; never thought of not coming back to India when I was in Pakistan on bail. Allah had always looked after me and I knew that he would ensure justice too," he told The Indian Express.
In May, the court had granted Chisti permission to visit his home city of Karachi during the pendency of his appeal in the Supreme Court and asked him to come back by November 1.
Chisti, 81, had challenged a trial court order of last year convicting him and giving him life imprisonment in the 1992 murder case, which was upheld by the high court. He had been visiting India to see his ailing mother in Ajmer district in Rajasthan at the time. During his stay, he had attended a function in his village on April 14, 1992, where an altercation had broken out, leading to the death of one person in a fight that followed. Chisti had been placed under house arrest In Rajasthan for almost 18 years in connection with the case.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court Bench held that "no further custody is required" and that Chisti was "free to return to his country without any restriction". It further ordered the trial court and other authorities to return his passport or any other document that was in their custody because of the pendency of his appeal. "Taking note of his age and academic qualification etc, to facilitate such course, the concerned department of the government of India is directed to issue necessary visa and complete all the formalities."
While examining the evidence on record, the court said that the accused — Chisti and two of his family members — were to some extent victims of armed aggression at the hands of the deceased and his companions.
What helped Chisti's defence was two versions of the incident adduced by the prosecution. The Bench found them "discrepant with each other" and said that in such a situation, the court was left with no reliable and trustworthy evidence upon which the conviction of the accused could be based.
Hence, the court added, every accused would have to be fastened with individual liability and punished for their specific role. Since it was a free fight as per the penal laws, according to the court, no right of private defence was also available to Chisti or anyone else. Chisti's counsel had argued that he had committed no offence and that whatever force he used, it was exercised in his private defence.
After this discussion of evidence, the court acquitted Chisti and also two other co-accused — Yasir Chisti and Akil Chisti — of murder charge and held all of them guilty only of causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
The microbiologist described the incident as an "unfortunate chapter" in his life. "I have lost my youth; prime of my life when I would have done so many things with the qualification. I have not been able to sleep in the past six months. Sword of this case was always hanging. I will now have a sound sleep."
Asked what was the first thing he would do on return to Pakistan, Chisti said that he would first want his "big family" — he has five daughters, one son and 31 grandchildren — to come together for a celebration. "I will also work towards changing a few things in Pakistan. I would want them to be more self-dependent and confident about their identities," he said.
In its order, the Bench also directed the Registry to return to him Rs 5 lakh that he had deposited as security when he was permitted to leave India and visit Pakistan.
- Former Ranji player among 3 more held
- Rajasthan Royals to file FIR against tainted trio
- If found guilty, BCCI to ask ICC to erase Sreesanth records
- Top cops among 42 named in death of blast accused
- PM takes tough line on incursion issue
- Security forces blame Maoists, villagers say CoBRA man was killed in ‘friendly fire’