30 Year Old Long Battle: SC Grants Relief To Bengal Man

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Kolkata: Coming to a rescue of an 89 year old man from West Bengal, the Supreme Court has set aside the three months jail awarded to him for possessing 187 litres of kerosene oil in excess at his ration shop in 1988.

The top court said that it is not interfering with the conviction of Madan Mohan Kabiraj but looking at his age, he can be accorded benefit of provisions of Probation of Offenders Act.

“Though we are not interfering with the conviction recorded against the appellant here in, having regard to the circumstances of this case and particularly the fact that the appellant is 89 years of age and that there is no other blemish against the appellant, we are of the opinion that the benefit of provisions of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, be extended in the present case,” a bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

It said that the three months sentence awarded to him by the Calcutta High Court is set aside and Kabiraj is released under the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.
Kabiraj through his advocate Dushyant Parashar has challenged the high court order which sentenced him for three-months jail after holding him guilty under provisions of Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

An FIR was lodged against Kabiraj on September 2, 1988, after an inspection of his ration shop, which he was running under the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS), found an excess of 187 litres of kerosene oil.

On April 20, 1990, a special court at Murshidabad had held Kabiraj guilty under provisions of Essential Commodities Act and awarded him four months rigorous jail term.

Kabiraj challenged the order of special court before the high court in 1990, which had after 26 years, on May 3, 2016, upheld the conviction but modified the sentence from four to three months jail term.

He claimed before the apex court that the high court had upheld his conviction solely on the statement of a police officer who lodged the case while holding the two independent witnesses as “most unreliable”.

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