The sessions court that acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case said he "deserved the benefit of doubt" as key witnesses were untrustworthy and inconsistent.
It also termed the silence of the Delhi Police, despite appearing to be privy to the killings in November 1984, a serious lapse.
In a 129-page verdict made public Wednesday, a day after the judgment, the court noted that key CBI witness Jagdish Kaur - who lost her husband, son and three cousins in the riots - did not name Kumar in her statements to the police or the Justice Ranganath Commission in 1985.
However, in court, she had said she saw Kumar lead the mob that killed the five in Delhi Cantonment.
"In these circumstances, Jagdish Kaur's testimony that she heard and saw Sajjan Kumar address a gathering with provocative and instigating utterances is not acceptable and believable and to that extent, the witness is not believable," additional sessions judge JR Aryan said.
The court found merit in the argument of Kumar's counsel that his implication was on false evidence when his name appeared for the first time in the affidavit submitted by Kaur before the Justice GT Nanavati Commission in 2004.
Fellow-witness Jagsher Singh, the court said, also named Kumar for the first time in his statement to the police in 2007 - 23 years after the incident. Singh lost his three brothers.
"This raises serious doubts about the veracity of the statement. Though Jagsher's presence has been accepted, when the charge against other accused was examined, the falsehood of that part of his testimony concerning accused Sajjan Kumar may not be ruled out."
Another eyewitness, Nirpreet Kaur, also took Kumar's name for the first time in her statement to the CBI in 2007, the court noted.
Nirpreet also lost her father in the riots but that is being tried as a separate case.
The Nanavati commission report says 341 people were killed in Delhi Cant during the riots on November 1-2, 1984.