25 convicted in Assam doctor lynching case
A court in Jorhat on Monday convicted 25 persons in the 2019 Dr Deben Dutta lynching case, the investigation of which “stood out” for the police’s promptness in filing a “foolproof” chargesheet in 22 days and the steps taken for “protection” of witnesses.
Of the 32 accused, six were acquitted by the Jorhat District and Sessions Judge Robin Phukan. One died during the trail.
Dr Dutta, 73, senior medical officer of Teok Tea Estate dispensary in upper Assam’s Jorhat district was lynched by a mob on August 31, 2019, for allegedly delaying the treatment of a worker, Somra Majhi. Dutta died on way to the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital. The mob not only bashed him up but also used sharp weapons during the assault.
The lynching sparked off a huge uproar with a series of street protests and the Indian Medical Association threatening to withdraw doctors from garden hospitals if prompt action was not taken to punish the guilty.
The accused (case no 434/2019) were charged under Sections 302/ 341/ 342/ 353/ 427/ 506/ 143/ 144/ 147/ 148 r/w 149/186/ 109 IPC r/w Sec. 4 of The Assam Medicare Service Persons & Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence & Damage to Property) Act, 2011.
The sections deal with murder (302), wrongful confinement, 147 (rioting), 353 (use of criminal force to deter public servants on duty), 149 (unlawful assembly of people with common objective).
The quantum of punishment would be pronounced on October 19 but the minimum punishment under the sections could be life term.
Special public prosecutor Durga Prasad Jaiswal told The Telegraph that the case stood out for two reasons. “First was the speed at which the foolproof chargesheet was filed, 22 days to be precise. Secondly, this is also the first case in the country wherein witness identity ‘concealment’ approach was adopted. There were seven witnesses whose identity I too don’t know,” Jaiswal said.
There were altogether 60 witnesses but 56 were examined during the trial.
A four-member special investigation team headed by Dr Siva Prasad, DIG, Eastern Range, investigated and concluded the case in a “record” time of 21 days and filed an elaborate 602-page chargesheet on September 21, 2019, sources said, adding that the other SIT members included V.C. Nimbalkar, Prakash Sonowal and Dipankar Gogoi.
Family members of the deceased were relieved and happy with the conviction of so many people because it will serve as a deterrent. The daughter of the deceased said she wanted that at least the person who “cut him” should get death sentence.