The case was decided after 25 years where accused Shabir Ahmad Matoo died last year and other accused Mohammad Ayoub was on trial

Srinagar: After 25 years, Court acquits a dead person and other accused from murder and terror charges as the prosecution failed to provide evidence in the case. 

Special court designated under NIA Act led by Justice Sandeep Gandotra acquitted late Shabir Ahmad Matoo and Mohammad Ayoub Sofi, both residents of Srinagar after finding that the uncorroborated, contradictory and infirm statements made by the complainant and witnesses relied upon by the prosecution, have failed to inspire confidence in the mind of the court to convict the accused. 

The Court recorded that out of the 19 witnesses listed by the prosecution only six have been examined. Those six witnesses would reveal that none of them have supported the prosecution case at all and three of them have been declared hostile. 

Earlier Wali Mohammad Sofi had filed a written complaint at Police Station Rainawari on 10 April, 1992 to the effect that his brother namely Mohammad Sadiq Sofi was killed by accused Shabir Ahmad Matoo by firing of bullet and the other accused Mohammad Ayoub Sofi has also fired a bullet on the leg of Mohammad Shafi Sofi  due to which Mohammad Shafi Sofi got injured. On the receipt of this complaint the FIR No. 25/1992 was registered and investigation started. The dispute arised on the land issue according to complainant.

It was stated that the accused persons are members of unknown terrorist group and were hiding somewhere, as such their arrest could not be made.

As such, the challan was presented before court in absence of the accused persons u/s 512 Cr.PC. Thereafter, the accused Shabir Ahmad Matoo was arrested by the police and in this regard supplementary challan no.1 of 1998 was presented before the court.

Justice Gandotra while reading out the facets of the case said that there is nothing on record which could prove that accused persons were working as Over ground workers for any banned outfit or whether the accused persons had joined any terrorist organization. 

“No weapon has been recovered from the accused persons and there is no allegation that the accused persons had destroyed their weapons,” court said.

Court noted that both the medical experts and the investigating officer of this case have not been examined. 

“These are very material contradictions/ omissions for which no genuine or reasonable explanation has been given by prosecution; the benefit thereof goes to the accused and they prove fatal to the prosecution case in hand,”Justice Gandotra said.

Court said, ” In the circumstances, the instant challan against the accused no. 2 is dismissed & the accused Mohammad Ayoub Sofi S/o Hassan Sofi R/o Sofi Mohalla, Kalan Dal, Srinagar is acquitted of the charges leveled against him U/s 302/34, 307 RPC, U/s 3/4 TADA U/s 7/25 I.A. Act. He is discharged of his surety bonds. 

Also, Accused No. 1 Shabir Ahmed Mantoo has unfortunately died during the trial on 26 November 2023 and proceedings in respect of accused No. 1 have been abated vide order dated 28 December 2023.

“The seized articles shall be disposed off under rules, after the period of appeal is over,” court said.

The accused were represented by Advocate Urfi and prosecution by state counsel.

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