The Bombay High Court acquitted a murder convict on Tuesday because the prosecution failed to get “clinching evidence” and failed to follow the law.
In 2003, a sessions court in Nashik awarded Sunil Jadhav (29) to seven years’ jail for kidnapping an eight-year-old girl in Malegaon and death sentence for killing her.
A division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayed observed: “The trial was not fair and transparent. Article 21 of the Constitution gives every accused a right of fair and transparent trial. The principle was not followed by the prosecution in this case.”
Advocate Ujjwal Nikam was appointed as special public prosecutor in the trial court, while Jadhav’s wife, Sarika, was made an approver (an accused who confesses and supports the prosecution) in the case.
She was acquitted of abetment charge by the sessions court.
The judges observed that Sarika was made approver without informing her about her rights. “Article 20(2) of the Constitution states that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a prosecution’s witness against his or her wish. The prosecution did not follow this principle,” said the bench.
The high court judges also directed the Directorate of Prosecution to inform all prosecutors to follow the law while representing the state in trial courts.
Jadhav’s advocate, Manoj Mohite, argued that as Sarika allegedly confessed to murdering the girl, the advocate refused to represent her.
Nikam failed to inform the trial court that Sarika’s advocate had withdrawn from the case, while she was “voluntarily” giving her evidence, said the high court.
The judges observed that the beheaded body, which was highly decomposed, was not sent for DNA testing. “We fail to understand why body was not subjected to DNA test, which is used to ascertain the gender of the body.”
The missing person’s complaint said the girl was wearing salwar kameez. But the beheaded body was clad in a T-shirt and elastic trousers.