“Killed woman for alleged witchcraft”: SC dismisses two men's appeal challenging conviction & life term

Read Time: 06 minutes


Court said that the fact that the convicts gheraoed around the deceased woman with deadly weapons showed their common intention to kill her 

The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and sentence of life imprisonment imposed on two men and others for killing a woman in 1993 in West Bengal's Purulia district, for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal dismissed appeals filed by Bhaktu Gorain and Bandhu Gorain, relying upon ocular testimony of family members of the deceased Keshari Mahato and the medical evidence. The court, however, allowed the two convicts to seek remission as per the prevailing policy since they have served over 15 years in jail.

Dealing with their appeal, the court rejected their contention that there was no common intention to kill the deceased and that they simply wanted to teach a lesson to her so that she may not indulge in her practices of witchcraft in future, as devoid of any merit.

"Admittedly an altercation had taken place between the parties on the previous night in which all the five accused persons were present and it is in furtherance of the said quarrel that all of them had appeared in the morning with reinforced vengeance. The very fact that they had assembled in the morning and surrounded (gheraoed) the deceased with deadly weapons is sufficient indication to infer that they had surrounded (gheraoed) in a pre-planned manner with a pre-determined mind. Thus, the submission that they had no common intention stands completely ruled out," the bench said.

The court also pointed out the nature of injuries which have been caused on the head of the deceased with the deadly weapons proves that they had assembled with the common intention and not merely to threaten her or to deter her from practicing witchcraft.

Finding no any specific lacuna in the testimony of the witnesses and the documentary evidence, the bench said, "We are of the opinion that the trial court had not committed any error in convicting and sentencing the accused persons with imprisonment of life. The conviction and sentence have rightly been affirmed by the High Court."

Appeals filed by three other convicts Surendra Gorain, Ranjit Gorai and Rajen Gorain were earlier dismissed by the Supreme Court on November 25, 2011.

According to the FIR lodged on September 27, 1993, all the five accused had assaulted the deceased on the head, when she along with her daughter-in-law was returning from pond after performing daily ablution. She fell down and died on the spot instantly.

The witnesses testified that all the five accused persons called the deceased a witch (diayen) who is the cause of trouble to the villagers as she used to indulge in witchcraft and her activities have caused suffering to the wife of convict Surendra Gorain (A-2) who was not keeping good health for some time. 

Case Title: Bandhu Gorain & Anr Vs State of Gujarat