'Benefit of doubt...': What SC said as it freed 3 convicted of rape in 2012 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

'Benefit of doubt...': What SC said as it freed 3 convicted of rape in 2012

ANI |
Nov 08, 2022 12:38 PM IST

The three convicts were awarded the death penalty after being held guilty of raping and killing a 19-year-old woman in 2012. The victim's mutilated body was found in a field with multiple injuries due to assault with objects ranging from car tools to earthen pots.

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Delhi High Court order and acquitted three men who were awarded the death penalty by a lower court after being held guilty of raping and killing a 19-year-old woman in Delhi's Chhawala area in 2012.

Three men had moved the top court against the capital punishment for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Delhi's Chhawala.
Three men had moved the top court against the capital punishment for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Delhi's Chhawala.

A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi set aside the judgments and orders of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court and the High Court in the case.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

The court gave the accused a benefit of doubt and directed to set free the accused forthwith if not required in any other case.

"...the judgments and orders of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court and the High Court are set aside. The Appellants-accused are acquitted from the charges levelled against them by giving them a benefit of doubt, and they are directed to be set free forthwith if not required in any other case. The appeals deserve to be allowed accordingly," the court said.

However, the court also directed that the parents of the victim would be entitled to the compensation, if not awarded so far by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, as may be permissible in accordance with law.

"Every case has to be decided by the Courts strictly on merits and in accordance with law without being influenced by any kind of outside moral pressures or otherwise," the top court remarked.

In its 40-page order, the court noted that material witnesses examined by the prosecution having not been either cross-examined or adequately examined, and said that "the trial court also having acted as a passive umpire, we find that the Appellants-accused were deprived of their rights to have a fair trial, apart from the fact that the truth also could not be elicited by the trial court."

"We leave it to the wisdom and discretion of the trial courts to exercise their powers under Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act for eliciting the truth in the cases before them, howsoever heinous or otherwise they may be," the court said.

Thus, having regard to the totality of circumstances and the evidence on record, it is difficult to hold that the prosecution had proved the guilt of the accused by adducing cogent and clinching evidence, the apex court opined as it noted that the evidence with regard to the arrest of the Appellants-accused, their identification, discoveries and recoveries of the incriminating articles, identity of the Indica Car, the seizures and sealing of the articles and collection of samples, the medical and scientific evidence, the report of DNA profiling, the evidence with regard to the CDRs etc were not proved by the prosecution by leading, cogent, clinching and clear evidence much less unerringly pointing the guilt of the accused.

"As per the settled legal position, in order to sustain conviction, the circumstances taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability, the crime was committed by the accused only and none else. The circumstantial evidence must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence," the court said.

"The prosecution has to bring home the charges levelled against them beyond reasonable doubt, which the prosecution has failed to do in the instant case, resultantly, the Court is left with no alternative but to acquit the accused, though involved in a very heinous crime," the court said.

However the court said that if the accused involved in the heinous crime go unpunished or are acquitted, a kind of agony and frustration may be caused to the society in general and to the family of the victim in particular, however the law does not permit the Courts to punish the accused on the basis of moral conviction or on suspicion alone.

"No conviction should be based merely on the apprehension of indictment or condemnation over the decision rendered," the court said.

The top court said that it is constrained to make these observations as it has noticed many glaring lapses having occurred during the course of the trial.

"It has been noticed from the record that out of the 49 witnesses examined by the prosecution, 10 material witnesses were not cross-examined and many other important witnesses were not adequately cross-examined by the defence counsel. It may be reminded that Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act confers unbridled powers upon the trial courts to put any question at any stage to the witnesses to elicit the truth. As observed in several decisions, the Judge is not expected to be a passive umpire but is supposed to actively participate in the trial, and to question the witnesses to reach to a correct conclusion." the court said.

Three men had moved the top court against the capital punishment for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Delhi's Chhawala.

The three convicts were awarded the death penalty after being held guilty of raping and killing a 19-year-old woman in 2012. The victim's mutilated body was found in a field with multiple injuries due to assault with objects ranging from car tools to earthen pots.

A Delhi court in February 2014 had convicted them. The capital punishment was confirmed by the Delhi High Court on August 26 2014, saying they were "predators" moving on the streets and "were looking for prey".

Three men, Ravi Kumar, Rahul and Vinod were convicted under various charges dealing with kidnapping, rape and murder.The three convicts have challenged the Delhi High Court order in the Supreme Court.

The case dates back to February 2012, when a 19-year old girl's body was found in Haryana. The girl was brutally killed after being raped.

A case was registered regarding this at outer Delhi's Chhawala (Najafgarh) police station.

According to the prosecution, the offence was barbaric in nature as they first kidnapped the woman, raped her, killed her and dumped her body in a field in Rodhai village in Haryana's Rewari district.

"The woman was kidnapped by the three men in a car from near her house in Qutub Vihar area on the night of February 9, 2012, while she was returning from office," the prosecution had said.

The prosecution had also revealed multiple injuries on the woman's head and other parts of her body and said that the three men had assaulted the woman with a car jack and an earthen pot. The crime was committed by Ravi Kumar with the help of the other two accused as the girl has refused the friendship proposal of Ravi Kumar, the prosecution had alleged. (ANI)

Discover the pivotal moments that shaped India's electoral journey on the Eras section of our exclusive Elections product. Access all content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On