Sapphire witnesses

Ranchi: Juvenile Justice Board, hearing the 2016 murder of 12-year-old Binay Mahto on the campus of Sapphire International School, will be writing to SP Kuldeep Dwivedi to ensure the presence of five remaining witnesses at the next hearing.

Sunil Prasad Singh, who is the advocate for Binay's father, Manbahal Mahto, said that none of the witnesses turned up even though the case was listed for hearing on Friday at the board, where cases involving children in conflict with law are heard.

"Among the five witnesses, three were connected with Sapphire school. They are lawn tennis coach Jintendra Tamul, hostel warden Atanau Nag and librarian Pradeep Kumar. Two others were investigating officers Harischandra Singh and Rajeev Ranjan. At least one was expected to appear before the board on Friday," Singh said.

He said the board, presided over by principal judge Rajeev Tripathi, then directed his office to issue a letter to senior superintendent of police of Ranchi to ensure that all five were present at the next hearing.

"The hearing will take place again on April 2," Singh said.

Prosecution lawyer Shradha Jaya Topno said she would take the initiative to ensure that all the wintesses were present on April 2.

"All the witnesses will be sent a notice from my office and all efforts will be made to ensure their presence on the scheduled date. First, the three witnesses associated with the school will be produced. After that the two investigating officers," she said.

Defence witness Pradeep Sarkar also expressed concern over the delay in production of witnesses.

"It is a matter of concern that witneses are not being produced and the trial is being delayed," he said.

Earlier, the lawyer representing Arif Ali Ansari, one of the accused, requested the board not to fix hearing dates during exams of their children, two of whom are also accused in the case. The request was allowed.


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