Dandupalya gang members acquitted in Hassan murder case

­The High Court on Thursday acquitted some members of the dreaded Dandupalya gang who were awarded death sentence by a trial court in 2010 in connection with a murder-armed robbery case in Hassan.

Hearing an appeal by Dandupalya Krishna, Thimma, Dodda Hanuma, Munikrishna and Venkataramana, the Division Bench comprising Justice K Bhaktavatsala and Justice K N Keshavanarayana set aside the death sentence.

Allowing the petition, the Bench observed that the trial court had erred in the conviction as there was no material on record to establish the crime. “The accused can be convicted if there is a change in the circumstances. The impugned order of conviction and sentences are set aside. The accused are acquitted of the offence,” the Bench observed.

The accused had moved the High Court challenging the trial court’s sentence. In their appeal, they contended that the allegations were false and that they were fixed in various undetected offences at that time.

“Except for the recovery of jewellery, there is no sufficient evidence against Dandupalya members and they have been targeted by  police officers who arrested them for personal gains from the department,” counsel Hasmath Pasha, who appeared on behalf of the appellants, alleged.

Pointing out that one of the accused, Thimma, was just 13 years old when he was arrested, Pasha submitted that the appellants had been booked in a false case and the trial court had erred by sentencing them.

The trial court had sentenced 11 members of the gang to death, finding them guilty in 14 cases of murder and armed robbery. On August 30, 2010, Judge H R Srinivas awarded death sentence to them in six cases registered in Bangalore, four in Mysore, two in Hubli and a case each in Hassan and Tumkur.

The members gained notoriety for their gruesome killings. Following their arrest, a special court was constituted to conduct the hearing. About 112 cases were allotted to this court, which was located on Bangalore Central Prison premises. Among the 14 cases against the gang, the High Court has now acquitted some of them in the Tumkur and Hassan cases. As many as 12 cases are pending trial.

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