The Allahabad High Court has overturned a 37-year-old conviction under dacoity of three persons from Kanpur Dehat on the grounds that in the absence of involvement of five or more persons no conviction should be made out under clauses of dacoity.

Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery overruled the judgment of a special court (dacoity) judge made on March 11, 1983, in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh.

“The appellants are acquitted of the charges and are hereby ordered to be set at liberty forthwith,” the court said in an order dated July 9.

The three had filed an appeal against their conviction under Sections 395 (dacoity) and 397 (dacoity with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt). While Balbir and Mohar Pal alias Chhakauri were awarded five years’ rigorous imprisonment, Lala Ram (who was charged under Sections 395 and 397) was given a seven-year term. They had been out on bail.

The counsel for the accused cited the Supreme Court’s decisions in Raj Kumar alias Raju vs. State of Uttaranchal (Now Uttarakhand), 2008, and Manmeet Singh alias Goldie vs. State of Punjab, 2015, cases to argue that the trial court erroneously convicted the three men under dacoity.

“…it is clear that in case there is a conviction of less than five persons under Sections 395/ 397 IPC, Trial Court must arrive to a finding that there was involvement of five or more persons,” the High Court observed. In absence of such finding, no conviction could be made out under aforesaid sections, the court added.

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