HC relies on dog's evidence, upholds conviction

 Relying on a police dog’s evidence, the Bombay High Court held a man guilty in a robbery and murder case and upheld the life sentence given to him by a lower court.Another person was held guilty on the basis of witness identification parade, while three others were acquitted.

Division bench of Justices P D Kode and V K Tahilramani last week upheld the conviction of Ejabool Jan Mohammed Shaikh and Kathalya alias Ramesh Raja Chavan on the basis of identification parade and “dog tracking evidence”, respectively, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Upholding his conviction, the High Court said, “It is scientifically accepted that dogs are rated as extremely intelligent animals and that some of their sensibilities are very highly developed and are extremely reliable.”Manojkumar Gupta, Ashok Chavan and Chandya Pawar were acquitted.

All the accused were convicted by Sewri Sessions Court in 2007 and given life imprisonment. The prosecution’s case was that in the early hours of January 19, 2003, the accused entered the ground-floor house of Vishal Mehta at Mamta Cooperative Housing Society in suburban Ghatkopar. They killed Vishal’s father, Nautam, mother, Hansaben, and brother Jay in sleep by hitting them with an iron rod.
Before entering the house, they had also murdered the watchman in the building compound.

Some residents who lived upstairs saw a group of men standing in the compound. When they raised alarm, the men ran away and police were informed.

Police recovered a pair of footwear (chappals) from the compound.
When some suspects were arrested, a sniffer dog was summoned, who was taken to eight people standing in a row after sniffing the footwear. The dog barked at Kathalya alias Ramesh Raja Chavan. According to the police, the process was carried out three times, and every time the dog picked out Ramesh.

In the present case, not once but three times the dog led to Ramesh Chavan and no other person, the HC noted.

The bench also relied upon the evidence of a shop-owner from whom Chavan had bought the iron rod.

The Court held Ejabool Jan Mohammed Shaikh guilty as Shashikumar, a resident of the building who lived upstairs, recognised him as one of the accused during the identification parade.

However, the other three were acquitted as High Court felt there was no reliable evidence against them.

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