The Bombay high court on Monday set free a man on death row. The high court acquitted Ramesh Lahane, 42, noting that the prosecution had failed to complete the chain of circumstances on the basis of which Ramesh was convicted and sentenced to death.
Ramesh, a farmer, had been sentenced to death for beheading another farmer, Vishwanath Lahane, over a purported land dispute in February 2012 in Washim district of Vidarbha region.
“The facts established in the present case are not consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt of Ramesh,” observed the division bench of justice Bhushan Gavai and justice VM Deshpande.
“According to us, the chain of the evidence is not complete,” the bench said, adding, “The chain of circumstances is broken at various places. Vital couplings in the chain are missing. According to us, the prosecution case revolves only around suspicion against Ramesh, however, suspicion cannot take place of proof.”
According to the prosecution case, Ramesh had killed Vishwanath because of some dispute over the boundary of their adjoining agricultural lands. The prosecution claimed that Ramesh had got the victim drunk and killed him, and then dumped his beheaded body in a well.
The body was seen floating on February 11, 2012, and after it was identified, Ramesh and three others were arrested in connection with the murder. The local police carried out an investigation, after which all the accused were tried and Ramesh was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence. On April 3 this year, Ramesh was sentenced to death.
The high court, however, found that the chain of circumstances was not proven completely and beyond reasonable doubt, so as to come to the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, excluding every other possibility.