The Allahabad High Court on Friday upheld the acquittal of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni in the 23-year-old Prabhat Gupta murder case.
With this, the bench of Justice Attaur Rahman Masoodi and Justice Om Prakash Shukla dismissed the UP government's appeal against his acquittal order passed by trial court in 2004.
The case dates back to 2000 when student leader Gupta was shot dead near his house in Tikonia in Lakhimpur Kheri. In this case, 4 people including Teni were named as accused. The others were Subhash Mama, Shashi Bhushan Pinky, and Rakesh Dalu.
In 2004, Teni was acquitted by the trial court but the then state government appealed against acquittal in the high court.
A revision plea under Section 397/ 401 Cr.P.C. was filed by the complainant/ revisionist Santosh Gupta, father of deceased Prabhat Gupta, before the high court.
The allegations against Teni are that he had a dispute with the deceased regarding the Panchayat elections, and hence, the deceased was shot dead by Teni and other accused.
On the other hand, Teni's lawyers pleaded that the trial court had not found the testimony of the alleged eyewitness to be reliable and other witnesses had turned hostile.
The verdict in the case had been reserved three times.
For the first time on March 12, 2018, a bench of Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyay and Dinesh Kumar Singh reserved the decision.
For the second time, on November 10, 2022, on the orders of the Supreme Court, Justices Ramesh Sinha and Renu Aggarwal reserved the decision.
For the third time, on February 21, 2023, the bench of Justices Masoodi and Shukla reserved the decision.
Meanwhile, the family members of Prabhat Gupta told reporters that they would appeal against the high court verdict in the Supreme Court.
"The case been going on for 23 years and now we are told that there is no accused. My brother was killed but the court says no one killed him," his brother said.