Flawed probe laid ground for acquittal in Pehlu Khan case: Lawyers
Khan, a dairy farmer, was lynched by alleged cow vigilantes on the Delhi-Jaipur highway near Behror in Rajasthan’s Alwar district while he was transporting cattle from a market in Jaipur to his home in Nuh, Haryana, two years ago.Updated: Aug 15, 2019 07:39 IST
The two charge sheets filed in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, contradictory medical reports and failure of the police to conduct a forensic examination of the video showing Khan being beaten up led to the acquittal of the six suspects, defence and prosecution lawyers claimed on Wednesday.
Even though the copy of the judgment will be available on Friday, the next working day, the observations of the lawyers were based on the hearing in the case.
Khan, a dairy farmer, was lynched by alleged cow vigilantes on the Delhi-Jaipur highway near Behror in Rajasthan’s Alwar district while he was transporting cattle from a market in Jaipur to his home in Nuh, Haryana, two years ago.
The police booked six men — Om Yadav (45), Hukum Chand Yadav (44), Sudhir Yadav (45), Jagmal Yadav (73), Naveen Sharma (48) and Rahul Saini (24) and 200 unidentified men — in the first information report (FIR) lodged on April 2, 2017, on the basis of the statement given by Pehlu Khan from his hospital bed.
A charge sheet against them was filed on May 31, 2017.
Meanwhile, the investigation of the case had shifted to the crime branch from district police before the charge sheet was filed. The crime branch probe was completed on September 1, 2017. While these six got a clean chit on the basis of the statement of staff of a cow shelter run by Jagmal Yadav, nine new suspects were named, three of whom were minors.
Accordingly, the police filed the second charge sheet on October 28, 2018, against the six new suspects – Vipin Yadav, 19, Ravindra Yadav, 29, Kalu Ram Yadav, 44, Dayanand Yadav, 47, Yogesh Khati, 30, and Bhim Rathi.
Charging six people who were not named by Pehlu Khan in his dying declaration went against the prosecution. Secondly, the video of the attack was not sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination.
Defence lawyer Hukum Chand Sharma said the suspects were not put through identification parade either in jail or in court during the trial.
“There were contradictions in the medical reports, too,” Sharma said, citing reports of doctors in Kailash Hospital, where Pehlu Khan was admitted. “His was an old case of heart disease and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and died due to cardiac arrest.”
However, according to the postmortem report prepared by a medical board, the cause of his death was “shock brought as a result of ante mortem thoraco-abdominal injuries”. HT has copies of both these reports.
Pehlu Khan’s lawyer Kasim Khan also agrees that there were flaws in the police investigation. “We were confident that there would be conviction but yes, the video was not sent for forensic examination and there was no identification of the accused,” he said.
When asked about the lacuna in the case, Rajiv Swarup, Rajasthan’s additional chief secretary (home), said the government has taken the judgment of the case seriously. “We have taken an immediate decision that we will examine the judgment and will take up the legal issues on which an appeal would be filed,” he said.
The case was handled by three different investigating officers. As soon as the case was lodged, the station house officer of Behror police station started the probe. Within a week, the case was transferred to deputy superintendent of police (Behror) Parmal Singh Gurjar. On May 11, 2012, the case was handed over to the additional superintendent of police (Kotputli), Ram Swaroop Sharma, on the orders of the inspector general of police, Jaipur.
Ram Swaroop Sharma was not available for comments on the outcome of the case.
Rights group, People Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL), said police had filed a very weak charge sheet in the Pehlu Khan case.
“The police deliberately did not send the video of the attack for forensic testing and did not put the accused through the identification process, senior police officers are to blame for this,” said Kavita Srivastav, PUCL Rajasthan general secretary.
First Published: Aug 14, 2019 23:37 IST