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Babubhai Bhimabhai Bokhiria, a senior minister in the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, today got a clean chit in a murder case from the Supreme Court which discharged him from standing trial.
Bokhiria, Agriculture and Water Resource Minister, was made an accused in the 2005 murder of his business rival Mulubhai Gigabhai Modhvadiya, who was close to the state Congress chief Arjun Modhvadiya.
Allowing the appeal of the MLA, a bench comprising justices C K Prasad and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said there was no evidence to prima facie show his complicity in the crime.
The Gujarat High Court had on December 11, 2008, concurred with the order of the trial court summoning him as an accused as there was prima facie strong evidence against Bokhiria as the letter recovered from the deceased incriminated him.
However, differing with the findings of the trial court and high court, the apex court said the note recovered from the victim cannot be considered as a dying declaration as the statement made by him does not relate to the cause of his death or to any circumstance of the transaction which resulted in his death.
"The note, therefore, in our opinion, is not admissible in evidence and, thus, cannot be considered as such to enable exercise of power under Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure," the bench said.
"In the case in hand, except apprehension, there is nothing in the note. No circumstance of any transaction resulting in the death of the deceased is found in the note," the bench said while rejecting the contention of the victim's family.
It further said nothing has come during the course of trial regarding the content of the conversation and from call records alone to show the MLA's complicity in the crime.
"From what we have observed, it is evident that no evidence at all has come during the trial which shows even a prima facie complicity of the appellant in the crime.
"In that view of the matter, the order passed by the trial court summoning the appellant (MLA), as affirmed by the High Court, cannot be allowed to stand," the bench said and also noted that "it is an admitted position that all those who were put on trial have now been acquitted by the trial court".
In October last year, a trial court in Rajkot had acquitted ten other accused in the case for want of evidence.