Thanks to the inordinate delay between his assault on his alleged victim and the victim’s death, a rickshaw driver from Charkop walked free recently. The Sessions Court in Dindoshi, in a judgment delivered on May 5 ordered the acquittal of murder accused Dhirajkumar Tiwari (27), who had assaulted tempo driver Sushilkumar Mishra in 2008.
Five days after his assault, Mishra had been released from hospital. But two months later, he passed away. Mishra and Tiwari had been involved in a scuffle on October 19, 2008 in Borivli, in course of which Mishra allegedly assaulted Tiwari with a trowel, knocking him into a drain. Locals rushed him to Bhagwati hospital, and after being treated there for less than a week, he was discharged. Mishra’s injuries, however, continued to trouble him, and on November 3, 2008 he returned to hospital.
He confided in his brother Sunil about the assault, after which his statement was recorded. Oddly, police did not register an FIR until November 5, 2008. Less than a month later, on December 10, 2008 – nearly two months after being assaulted — Mishra passed away. In his judgement, Judge SV Kulkarni observed, “The delay caused in filing FIR is sufficient to prove that false allegations were made against the accused by prosecution.”
The prosecution’s case was based on the testimony of Deepak Rawat, a tea-stall owner who witnessed the entire incident. The men had come to his stall at about 7 pm, and according to Rawat’s account, a quarrel broke out between them. During trial, Tiwari pled not guilty and alleged that he was being framed. The post mortem report however, had concluded that Mishra died from unnatural causes – whiplash injuries sustained in an assault.
The judge further stated, “The discharge shows that deceased was completely cured. Nothing has come on record to show why the deceased was again admitted to hospital on November 11. There is a possibility of something else happening during the period between October 25 and November 3. According to the doctor, the death was caused due to various complications. It cannot be presumed that the death was homicidal. It appears that there was negligence on the part of Sushilkumar in taking proper medical treatment.”
Interestingly, Mishra’s own statement to police said, “At about 7 pm on October 19, 2008, I was standing near a paan tapri on SV Road. A quarrel broke out between some other rickshaw drivers nearby. I was standing near them and was pushed and fell. I was lying on the footpath till the next morning. I have no complaint against anybody.” It was only on November 4, 2008, that Mishra gave an additional statement against Tiwari. This doubt, coupled with other inconsistencies, especially the absence of testimonies from other rickshaw drivers, ultimately led to Mishra’s acquittal.
Timeline leading up to the acquittal
19/10/2008: Mishra has a quarrel with Tiwari
20/10: Mishra is hospitalised
25/10: Mishra is discharged
03/11: Mishra is readmitted with complications
05/11: An FIR is registered against Tiwari
10/12: Mishra dies, an autopsy proves he died ‘unnaturally’
05/05/2012: Tiwari is acquitted of murdering Mishra