New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted a death row convict in the rape and murder of a 6-year-old, saying it cannot make someone a victim of injustice to compensate for the injustice to the victim of a crime.
A bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer, A.S. Bopanna, and V. Ramasubramanian said: “We cannot shy away from the fact that it is a ghastly case of rape and murder of a 6-year-old child. By not conducting the investigation properly, the prosecution has done injustice to the family of the victim. By fixing culpability upon the appellant without any shred of evidence which will stand scrutiny, the prosecution has done injustice to the appellant.”
“Court cannot make someone, a victim of injustice, to compensate for the injustice to the victim of a crime.”
The bench said it is not the quantum, but what matters is the quality and both courts below found the evidence of the first three prosecution witnesses acceptable. “The seriously inherent contradictions in the statements made by them have not been duly taken note of by both courts. When the offence is heinous, the court is required to put the material evidence under higher scrutiny,” it said.
The top court said no one admitted who sent the FIR to the court and when it was sent and strangely even, the copy of the post mortem report was admittedly received by SHO on March 13, 2012, though the post mortem was conducted on March 9, 2012.
“It was the same date on which the FIR reached the court. These factors certainly create a strong suspicion on the story as projected by the prosecution, but both the courts have overlooked the same completely. This erroneous approach on the part of the sessions court and the high court has led to the appellant being ordained to be dispatched to the gallows,” it noted.
The top court judgment came on an appeal filed by Chotkau, who was convicted for the offences for rape and murder, and sentenced to death by the sessions court, which was also confirmed by the Allahabad High Court.
Setting aside the death penalty and conviction, the top court said: “In fact, this is a case where the appellant is so poor that he could not afford to engage a lawyer even in the sessions court. After his repeated requests to the court of District and Sessions judge, the service of an advocate was provided as amicus. In cases of such nature, the responsibility of the court becomes more onerous.”