Chennai, Jan 27 (PTI) The Madras High Court has upheld a lower court order acquitting 19 accused in a case relating to the deaths of 35 people following consumption of illicit arrack in a village on the city outskirts in 2001. Also Read - 8 get life term for abduction of doctor couple

Dismissing an appeal filed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police challenging the acquittals, Justice M V Muralidharan recently observed that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Also Read - 10 found guilty in double murder case

At the same time, the court expressed its concern over the “gruesome menace of consumption of liquor” in the country. Also Read - Man gets life imprisonment for killing wife, two children

Though the offence is heinous in nature that alone cannot be the criteria to hold that the case is proved, the judge said.

Though it is a fact that 35 lives were lost, the evidence available is not sufficient to hold that the prosecution has proved the offence beyond reasonable doubt, Justice Muralidharan said.

The court is not able to accept the case of the appellant to record conviction by interfering in the finding of the trial judge and “unfortunately this court has no option except to dismiss the criminal appeal filed by the state”, the judge said.

The matter relates to the loss of 35 lives on October 5, 2001 following consumption of illicit liquor at a village in Red Hills area.

Twenty-one people were arrested in connection with the case. While two accused died during pendency of the trial, 19 others were acquitted by the Additional District and Sessions Judge (Fast Tract Court No.IV), Ponneri.

The sessions court had acquitted them stating that the prosecution was unable to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.