Supreme Court to examine how a CJM court in Kerala ‘exceeded jurisdiction’

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The Supreme Court has agreed to examine how a Chief Judicial Magistrate court in Kerala “exceeded its jurisdiction” to try and convict a man for dacoity.

The offence of dacoity under Section 394 of the Indian Penal Code is punished with life imprisonment or sentence up to 10 years and fine.

Under Section 29 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) “may pass any sentence authorised by law except a sentence of death or of imprisonment for life or of imprisonment for a term exceeding seven years”.

A Bench led by Justice Krishna Murari has issued notice to the State of Kerala on the appeal filed by the accused-petitioner Ratheesh, represented by advocates Tomy Chacko and Ankolekar Gurudatta and listed the case for detailed hearing in July.

The court granted Mr. Ratheesh exemption from surrendering until further orders.

Mr. Ratheesh, who has also challenged the reduced sentence of two years awarded to him by the State High Court in November 2021, said the alleged incident dated back by 25 years. He was 54 years old now, a fisherman wrongly tried for a serious offence like dacoity.

He said the police version had not even included the basic ingredients of such a crime. There was no medical evidence of any injuries or hurt inflicted on the victim.

According to the police, the incident happened in July 1998. The victim was sitting at a park in Ernakulam when the accused allegedly accosted him, and after a brief conversation, punched him on the chest and made off with a gold chain.

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