Three men were let off in a 2006 murder case after the Bombay High Court refused to believe the sole eyewitness.
In April 2006, Devchand Sukte and his two sons were arrested for allegedly killing a relative at Matunga. In November 2006, a sessions court convicted all three and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A.R. Joshi acquitted Sukte and his two sons, one of them Raju (26) – who was suffering from chronic schizophrenia and required medical attention.
Sukte had written a letter from Yerawada jail, where they are lodged, seeking that Raju be released so that he could take medical treatment.
The high court has converted the letter into a writ petition and appointed advocate Yug Chaudhary as amicus curie (friend of court).
However, while hearing the petition, the high court took up the hearing in Suktes’ appeal against their life sentence.
Devchand had said in the letter that Raju has been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia since 1993, because of which he is incapable of knowing the nature of the alleged act and/ or incapable of knowing that he was doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.
Chaudhary had argued that during Raju’s first remand, the magistrate was told that he (Raju) is suffering from mental illness and needs treatment. On at least eight occasions, the magistrate had asked the police to provide treatment which was being done.
However, at the time of judgment and sentencing him to life, the mental illness ground was not considered.
The high court said that the eyewitness, who allegedly saw Sukte immediately after the murder, cannot be believed.