Five years after a ‘jilted lover’ — 24-year-old graphic designer Nikhil Chaudhary — was arrested for allegedly murdering his ‘girlfriend’ inside the Delhi Zoo, Delhi High Court on Monday acquitted him of all charges.
The body of Kanchan was found lying in a drain near the enclosure of a Royal Bengal Tiger on July 17, 2004. Her throat had been slit.
As per the prosecution story, Chaudhary had even confessed to the crime and had said that he had killed Kanchan, living in his neighbourhood because she used to threaten him that she would sever ties with him if he did not marry her soon. Police said Chaudhary also suspected that she was having an affair with another youth.
A two-judge bench upheld his acquittal by the trial court on March 24, 2007, slamming the Delhi police for ‘shoddy investigation’ and not making an effort to complete the chain of circumstantial evidence in the absence of direct eyewitnesses to the crime.
“The respondent (Chaudhary) cannot be convicted in the absence of a complete chain of circumstances consistent with the hypothesis of guilt of the respondent. The trial court has, thus, rightly given the benefit of doubt to the respondent acquitting him of the charges albeit the same being a result of a shoddy investigation,” said judges justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ajit Bharihoke.
The bench found that crucial witnesses had not been examined and crucial evidence had been tampered with.
Pulling up the police for the sloppy probe, the bench wondered why the police had not made witness and produced before the court one Sukhbir Singh who had told the girl’s father Pradeep Kumar that he had seen her in a heated exchange with a boy and he could identify him.
The court also dismissed a separate plea filed by the girl’s father seeking Chaudhary’s conviction observing: “We are conscious of the pain and anguish of the father... and find it difficult to fathom that no one is found guilty of the offence of murder of his daughter. His suspicion is that the respondent committed the crime. Unfortunately such suspicion cannot form the basis of conviction.”