Nine get death penalty, life term for four in 2016 Bihar hooch case
- Another high court bench of justice Ashutosh Kumar also granted relief to 10 other police personnel on February 4, this year, ordering their reinstatement.
A local court in Bihar’s Gopalganj district on Friday awarded death penalty to nine people and life sentence to four women for their role in the 2016 hooch case in which 19 people were killed and two lost their vision. The court also slapped a fine of ₹10 lakh on each of the accused.
The death penalty to nine persons in the hooch tragedy in Gopalganj is the first such instance when capital punishment has been given to so many accused in any hooch tragedy.
The 13 surviving accused in the August 2016 case were convicted by additional district judge Luv Kush Kumar. The accused were held guilty under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Excise Act of 2016.
“They are accused of manufacturing, smuggling and selling liquor,” said public prosecutor Deo Vansh Giri.
Nineteen people died in the Khajurbani locality of the district on August 16, 2016 after consuming spurious liquor, four months after the Nitish Kumar government banned sale and consumption of alcohol across the state on April 5, 2016.
During a raid in Khajurbani locality, officials recovered more than 500 litres of alcohol.
The then District Magistrate ordered imposition of “collective fine” on the locality in a bid to deter the residents, all involved in the illicit liquor trade, from continuing with the trade.
The main accused in the case, Rupesh Shukla alias Pandit, meanwhile, is absconding and the court has issued a Red Warrant against him, said Giri. Red warrant is issued when a person named as accused in a case is absconding.
In total, 14 persons were named in the FIR after the hooch tragedy but later in the course of investigation, names of four others were added. While Rupesh Shukla is absconding , three others named in the case during investigation are in judicial custody, said Giri.
The court also issued a non-bailable warrant against two of the accused and ordered that their properties be attached since the two did not appear before the court on Friday, Giri added.
According to special public prosecutor Ravi Bhushan Srivastava, 14 people were named as accused in the illicit liquor case. One of the accused died pending trial.
Twenty-one policemen, including three sub-inspectors, five assistant sub-inspectors and 13 constables, of Town police station were dismissed in June 2020 in connection with the hooch tragedy.
The Patna high court, however, ordered the reinstatement of five police personnel. On January 6 this year, a bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh set aside the order of the Gopalganj DGP , Gupteshwar Pandey, granting relief to the personnel.
Another high court bench of justice Ashutosh Kumar also granted relief to 10 other police personnel on February 4, this year, ordering their reinstatement.
There have been eight major tragedies in the state in last few years. The state government has taken a decision in principle that Station house officers ( SHOs) would face suspension and even dismissal from service incase there is a hooch tragedy in their respective area. The excise department has intensified checkings at all state highways and national highways.
(With agency inputs)