The Bombay high court has acquitted four Govandi residents, 11 years after they were apprehended on the charge of raping, sodomising and killing three-and-half-year-old daughter of a local chemist.
The division bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and Justice AM Badar reversed conviction of Samir Shaikh (27), Asif Mansoorali Ansari (32), Mohammed Sharif (31) and Parvez Ahmed (40), giving them the benefit of doubt primarily in view of doubtful evidence led by the prosecution to prove its case.
According to the prosecution case, the toddler was kidnapped by the quartet on 7 April 2006, gang-raped and sodomised and murdered. Two days later, her body was found dumped in the water tank of a public toilet in the locality, Bainganwadi.
Four days after finding the body, the police arrested Samir Shaikh and Asif Ansari. Mohammed Sharif was apprehended a week thereafter and Parvez Ahmed, a month later. The prosecution’s case against them was based on circumstantial evidence of 23 witnesses and medical evidence. The trial court on October 24, 2008, convicted all the four and sentenced them to suffer life imprisonment.
All the four had then approached high court challenging their convictions as also the life terms handed down to them by the trial court.
High court found that the prosecution failed to connect the chain of circumstances sought to be proved against the four. One of the circumstances was that a local resident had seen the four together on the day when the child went missing, with one of them, Parvez Ahmed, carrying the girl in his arm, and proceeding towards Plot No. 10, where the body was later found dumped.
The other important circumstances cited against them was the motive – that the girl’s father had refused to provide the accused certain medicines to them, bruises found on private parts of two of the accused persons and results of their brain mapping test.
As regards the circumstances, the high court found the evidence falling short of requisite standards, but it out rightly rejected the results of scientific tests, as such results are not admissible as evidence against the accused persons, although additional material collected by police on the basis of the result of such tests is admissible evidence, the bench said.