The Madras High Court has dismissed the appeal filed by a man awarded seven years rigorous imprisonment for hijacking a TNSTC town bus and stealing the conductor’s cash bag.

Justice M. Venugopal found the petitioner, Thiyagarajan, was guilty of offences under Sections 392 (robbery) and 397 (robbery or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code.

A Fast Track Court (FTC) had awarded seven years rigorous imprisonment to the petitioner. In his appeal petition, Thiyagarajan had pleaded his innocence and claimed that the charges made against him by the prosecution were false.

According to the prosecution, Thiyagarajan and two others had boarded a TNSTC bus at a bus stop in Sundapalayam Road at Coimbatore at around 10 p.m. on May 6, 2004.

The trio had manhandled the driver and the conductor of the bus, threatened to assault them with deadly weapons and walked off with the conductor’s cash bag containing Rs.3058, the prosecution claimed. The three men were subsequently arrested based on an identification parade, the statements of around 12 witnesses, the passengers of the bus, and the residents and shopkeepers of Sundapalayam, and tried at the FTC, the prosecution added.

Thiyagarajan was convicted, while the others were acquitted as the charges against them were not proved, the prosecution submitted.

In his appeal petition, Thiyagarajan claimed that the police had originally registered the FIR against “unknown persons”, but named him based on the statement of the second accused, who was acquitted. When the second and third accused were acquitted, the conviction against the petitioner could not be sustained, the petitioner’s counsel argued. He further submitted that the cash bag, reported to be stolen, was not recovered from the petitioner.

In his order, Justice Venugopal ruled that the prosecution had proved the charge against the petitioner “beyond any shadow of doubt”. Therefore, he dismissed the appeal and upheld the FTC’s judgment.

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