Bombay HC cites lack of evidence, acquits man convicted of rape, murder of child
The Bombay high court’s Aurangabad bench has acquitted a 34-year-old man sentenced to death for raping and murdering a child in 2017, saying a special court convicted him without conclusive evidence and cross-examination of the witnesses.
In its order on February 11, the high court said it was anguished by the insensitive way in which the prosecution went about the trial. It rapped the presiding officer for failing to bring forth witnesses or evidence necessary for reaching the correct conclusion.
The man was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence and eyewitness accounts. During the trial, the police informed the special court that it had recovered a nylon rope used to kill the child from the man’s home. The police also claimed to have recovered a lungi near the child’s body that allegedly belonged to the man’s father.
The police told the trial court that two witnesses had seen the child with the man. They submitted statements of labourers, who worked with the man in Karnataka, saying he was tense and silent.
Sudarshan Salunke, the man’s lawyer, said the special court failed to notice missing links in the chain of circumstantial evidence. He submitted the conviction was based on assumptions and inferences and relied on uncorroborated evidence as the medical report also did not indicate that the minor was raped.
The rope and lungi were also not tested and that sniffer dogs had lost the trail when they reached the man’s village.
“...we do not find such evidence before us which would convince us that it was this accused and no other person who can be said to have committed the crime. The chain of circumstantial evidence is broken...” the high court said. It granted the benefit of the doubt to the man while setting aside the special court’s conviction. “...we are indeed disturbed by the manner in which the prosecution has investigated the crime, collected evidence and conducted the trial in a most insensitive manner,” the high court said.