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19 convicted for 2004 hooch tragedy that killed 87

The Sewri Sessions Court yesterday convicted 19 people in the eight-year-old hooch tragedy in Vikhroli, which had killed 87 people after they consumed illicit liquor in December 2004. The court also observed that the state’s excise officers ought to have been accused in the case for showing leniency towards the accused.

While Dayaram Mhatre, Pandit Kalan, Pradeep D’mello and Vishnu Mhatre were sentenced to life, another 15 of the accused were sentenced to two years of imprisonment. Session Judge W K Kandankar observed in his judgment that around 57 officials, including IPS officials and officers from the state excise department, ought to have been made accused in the case for showing leniency towards the accused.

After the incident, the state government had suspended 57 officials, including police officers and state excise officers for their alleged negligence in taking preventive action that could have averted the tragedy. However, most of them were subsequently reinstated.“Such officers are equally liable for the commission of crime committed by the accused concerned. So such officers ought to have been prosecuted and implicated as co-accused in this case,” the court observed.

The judge took note of defense advocates Abdul Wahab and M R Dhanawade’s final argument, in which they had submitted that the illicit country liquor was supplied, transported and distributed from village Hedutane, in Thane. The accused were booked under Sections 304, 328 and 324 of the IPC.

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