The Supreme Court, while freeing Pakistani microbiologist Khaleel Chisti from a case of murder, said on Monday that an analysis of the materials showed that two versions of the incident presented by the prosecution differed from each other.

In such a situation, a Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said, the court would be left with no reliable and trustworthy evidence to convict the accused. Though the accused would have the benefit of such a situation and counsel appearing for the appellants prayed for acquittal of the appellants of all the charges, “in view of the principles we have already discussed, we are of the view that each accused can be fastened with individual liability, taking into consideration the specific role or part attributed to each… In other words, both sides can be convicted for their individual acts, and normally no right of private defence is available to either party, and they will be guilty of their respective acts.”

In respect of Yasir Chisti (accused 1) and Akil Chisti (accused 3), the Bench said that considering their individual acts, they could only be convicted under Section 324 of the IPC; given that they served approximately 11 and 10 months respectively, the sentence would be sufficient. “…hence, both… are directed to be released forthwith, if they are not required in any other case.”

The case relates to a fight between two groups of Khadim Mohalla, Jhalra, Ajmer, which resulted in the death of Idris. Two First Information Reports were registered. On April 14, 1992, an altercation took place, sequel to an old rivalry, between Khalil Chisti (accused 2) and Khurshid Pahalwan, cousin of Aslam Chisti, at a function held at the house of Shabbir. On January 31, 2011, the trial court awarded life sentence to the accused. The ruling was confirmed by the Rajasthan High Court. The appeals are directed against this judgment.

Disposing of the appeals, the Bench said: “By a May 10 order, this court directed Dr. Mohammad Khalil Chisti to deposit … Rs. 5 lakh as security with the Registry…, and this condition has been complied with.”

If the passport or any other document of Dr. Chisti was in the custody of the trial court or any other authority of the Government of India, they should be returned to him, and “he is free to return to his country without any restriction.” Because of his age and academic qualification, the government department should issue visa and complete all formalities for his smooth return to his country.

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