Supreme Court acquits man on death row for minor's rape-murder

The court also pointed out other irregularities like statutory non compliance in collection of DNA samples
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 21 May 2023, 12:35 IST
Last Updated : 21 May 2023, 12:35 IST
Last Updated : 21 May 2023, 12:35 IST
Last Updated : 21 May 2023, 12:35 IST

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The Supreme Court has set free a man awarded death penalty by a trial court and confirmed by the Bombay High Court in a rape-cum-murder case of six-year-old girl child, due to "yawning gaps" in the case based on circumstantial evidence.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol said the offence against the innocent child is not in dispute and cannot be deprecated enough even in the most severe terms.

"However, the circumstances forming the chain of commission of this crime cannot and do not point conclusively to the appellant in a manner that he may be punished for the same much less, with the sentence of being put to death," the bench said.

The court also pointed out other irregularities like statutory non compliance in collection of DNA samples.

It allowed the appeal filed by Prakash Nishad alias Kevat Zinak Nishad, who was arrested in the FIR lodged on June 12, 2010 with Bhayander police station in Thane, Maharashtra on charges.

After going through the materials on record, the court said what was the basis of appellant being a suspect at the first instance, remains a mystery as persons who may have shed light on this essential aspects went unexamined by the prosecution.

Since no one has witnessed the crime of rape, unnatural sex and killing, the prosecution relied upon recovery of blood and semen stained clothes on the basis of the appellant's disclosure statement, scientific analysis including DNA examinations.

The court also noted no reasons were given for the need not to comply with the requirement of Section 53 A (examination of accused by medical practitioner) of the Criminal Procedure Code, causing "glaring lapse" in the investigation.

It also referred to the Maharashtra police manuals and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs' guidelines for collection, storage and transportation of DNA samples, its chain of custody and expedition in submitting in the laboratory.

In the case, the court said who took the samples were not explained and the doctor who conducted such examination (DNA), has not stepped into the witness box to testify the correctness of the report.

"Even though, the DNA evidence by way of a report was present, its reliability is not infallible," it said.

The court also found there is unexplained delay in sending the samples and alleged disclosure statement of the appellant was never read over and explained to the appellant in his vernacular language.

The court said it is true that the unfortunate incident did take place, and the prosecutrix sustained multiple injuries on her body and surely must have suffered great pain, agony, and trauma.

"At the tender age of 6, a life for which much was in store in the future was terrifyingly destroyed and extinguished.

The parents of the prosecutrix suffered an unfathomable loss; a wound for which there is no remedy. Despite such painful realities being part of this case, we cannot hold within law, the prosecution to have undergone all necessary lengths and efforts to take the steps necessary for driving home the guilt of the appellant and that of none else in the crime," the bench said.

Published 21 May 2023, 12:35 IST

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