Additional district and session judge Najar Singh acquitted three persons charged with murder as the prosecution failed to prove the case here on Friday.
After spending nearly three years behind bars, the acquitted have been identified as Vishal Luthra, a resident of Hoshiarpur, Gurinder Singh of SAS Nagar and Gurmeet Singh of Mansa.
All three were arrested by the police after body of 26-year-old Akash Malhotra, hailing from Hoshiarpur, was recovered with multiple injuries from near Sukhna Lake in March 2011.
The police claimed it to be a 'well-planned murder owing to old rivalry' and arrested Vishal, Gurinder and Gurmeet, but failed to prove their involvement in the crime.
Despite recovery of mobile phone of the deceased from one of the accused, along with blood-stained clothes and car used in the crime, as well as for disposal of the body, the police failed to prove the allegations 'beyond doubt'.
The case was based on 'circumstantial evidence which was not sufficient for conviction'. There were too many loopholes in the prosecution story and the blood found on the clothes recovered from the accused did not match with that of the deceased, leading to acquittal.
In what was called one of the most brutal murders, Akash was found murdered with about 40 injury marks on his body. The police had claimed that the accused first had liquor with Akash at a vend in Kaimbwala. Later, the accused murdered Akash and dumped the body near the lake. The police claimed that since Akash was heavily drunk, he could not resist the attack.
Akash, working in a call centre, was himself facing trials in two separate auto-theft cases registered against him by Chandigarh and Punjab police. Police had initially arrested his friend Jatinder, who was later let off.