Leaving the police red-faced, three Mauli Jagran residents accused of setting a woman ablaze last year were acquitted as the defence proved the three were in their offices at the time of the crime.
The order of additional district and sessions judge RK Jain came as a major respite to Dharamraj, 33, his brother Sant Ram, 32, and Subodh, 21, who were booked for murdering their neighbour Usha by setting her ablaze in March last year. While vindicating the trio’s claim that they were being falsely implicated, the order has raised a question on the police investigation as the acquittal means the accused is still at large.
On March 22, 2014, Usha’s mother, Saroj Devi, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that her daughter was set ablaze by the trio.
In her complaint to the police, Saroj Devi said she heard her daughter’s screams coming from the third floor at around 2.30 pm. When she reached there, she saw Usha engulfed in flames.
After dousing the flames, she rushed her daughter to the Sector 16 hospital, where she died of her burn injuries.
Saroj stated that Usha had told her that she was taking a nap on the roof when she noticed her clothes had caught fire and Sant Ram, Dharamraj and another person were running away from there.
Attributing motive to the crime, Saroj had said the neighbours wanted to grab her house and were pressurising her to sell it.
Saroj alleged they had even assaulted her a few days before the incident and threatened her daughter not to depose before court in the assault case.
The UT police was left embarrassed as the defence counsel AS Chahal proved that all three accused were falsely implicated in the case and they were present at their respective places of work at the time of the incident.
Dharamraj, who worked as a gardener at Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, was found on duty in footage obtained from closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at the college.
Similarly, as per records of Haryana public works department, Sant Ram was working in the buildings and roads (B&R) office at the time of the crime. Also, as per Subodh’s employer, he was working at his auto service centre.
There were glaring discrepancies in the prosecution story that facilitated the acquittal. Chahal said: “Victim Usha had named one Sangram Singh Yadav as accused while her mother owing to dispute with the Sant Ram had named him along with one Kale and Yadav.”
He added, “Usha’s 12-year-daughter had named Sant Ram, Dharamraj and Subodh, but the police had not registered her statement. Also, Usha, her mother and her daughter had given different time of occurrence of the incident, creating doubt on the genuineness of the complaint.”