No matter how strong the suspicion is, it cannot take the place of proof, the Delhi High Court has said while acquitting a man of charges of rape and abduction of a four-year-old neighbour.
Justice GP Mittal, in a recent judgment, upheld the trial court's decision which acquitted Nand Ji Prasad of raping the minor due to lack of evidence and because the child had not responded to queries during her cross-examination.
"It is very unfortunate that the small child was brutally assaulted by someone and the police somehow was unable to collect enough evidence to nail the accused. It has to be borne in mind that there is always possibility of tutoring a child witness," the court said.
"The prosecutrix (victim) in answer to the question as to who caused the injury on her private parts, pointed towards the accused. But in response to the next question as to how the injury was caused, she kept quiet inspite of the question being repeatedly put to her. In cross-examination she was unable to answer any question at all," the court said.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by the prosecution against Jan 8, 2006 trial court judgment acquitting Nand Ji Prasad.
According to the prosecution, the alleged rape took place September 15, 2004 in a park in the city.
Justice Mittal said the trial court was justified in giving the "benefit of doubt" to the accused because "suspicion, however, strong cannot take place of proof".
The court said the Supreme Court has reiterated the principles which must be kept in mind by the high court while entertaining an appeal against an order of acquittal.
As per the prosecution, on the day of the incident the mother of the victim went out for work leaving her daughter at home. When she came back after two hours she did not find her daughter at home and went to the house of their neighbour Nand Ji Prasad to inquire about the child.
The accused ran away after bolting the door of his room after the victim's mother inquired from him about her daughter. When she opened the door of the accused's room, she found blood stained clothes raising suspicion that he had done the wrong act with her daughter, the prosecution said.
She chased the accused and found her daughter lying unconscious, with blood stains near in a park.