The Supreme Court on Monday admitted the Bihar government's appeal against the acquittal of 23 people, allegedly involved in the 1996 carnage of 21 Dalits at Bathani Tola in Bhojpur district of the state by Ranvir Sena.
On the appeals filed by the state government and also a family members of some of the victims against the Patna high court's April 16 ruling, a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J Chelameshwar issued notices to all the acquitted accused.
The high court had set aside the death sentences, awarded to three persons and the life terms to 20 others for the killings allegedly by the Ranvir Sena on July 11, 1996 at Bathani Tola under Sahar block in Bhojpur district.
When the two appeals came for hearing, the bench said the case has to be heard in urgent manner and the records of the trial court has to be summoned expeditiously.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar and advocate Abhinav Mukherji said the state has filed its appeal after annexing all the relevant documents.
The informant Sri Kishun Choudhury, whose wife and two daughters had been killed in the massacre, too has challenged the high court judgement.
The high court had allowed the appeals against the conviction order saying that the prosecution failed to prove the involvement of the appellants in the crime beyond reasonable doubt.
A Bhojpur court had in May 2011 had held the 23 accused guilty of killing the Dalits.