SC clears Chisti of murder, says free to return to Pak

FP

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.

... contd.

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