Uttarakhand HC Frees Man on Death Row in Minor’s Rape & Murder Case

Uttarakhand High Court

The Uttarakhand High Court accepted the appeal by a man who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder case of a 15-year-old minor girl due to the absence of semen.

What Did The Bench Noted?

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Alok Kumar Verma noted, “Once the DNA report cannot be made the basis for conviction, the absence of the semen in the leggings when the dead body was recovered makes it more confusing that she had been raped. The role of Azhar becomes more doubtful, as after suffering injuries, he could have driven the motorcycle and taken the deceased to the site, committed rape, and, after killing her, brought the dead body and hanged it from the tree, from where the dead body was visible to everybody, and also from the house of the deceased.”

Advocate Manisha Bhandari represented the appellant, whereas DAG JS Virk and Advocate Rakesh Joshi represented the respondents. A reference was sent by the Additional Sessions Judge under Section 366 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for affirmation of a sentence of death awarded by the Court challenging the appellant under Section 376, 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 (‘POCSO’).

The facts of the case were that a complaint was filed in January 2016 by the brother of the minor-deceased. According to the prosecution story, the corpse of the minor was found hanging from the tree. She was seen with the appellant on a bike and did not get back home after that.

After evaluating the proofs, facts, and conditions on record, the Court observed that if he had committed the crime, he would have left the dead body there, and especially keeping in mind the wound suffered by him, it is highly confusing that he would have carried the dead body on the bike and thereafter hung the body on the tree from where it can be seen by everybody.

More Into The Matter

The Court also mentioned that when the corpse was recovered, the deceased was wearing a legging and there were blood stains on it, but there were no stains of semen in the legging, and she was not even wearing any undergarments. If rape had been committed on her, then there would be semen in the legging instead of only blood stains.

The Court observed, “The entire version of the prosecution becomes doubtful, and keeping in view the above facts, the appeal of the accused Azhar is being allowed, and the judgment and order dated 10/12/2018, passed by Additional Sessions Judge/FFTC / Special Judge (POCSO), Dehradun, in Special Sessions Trial No. 21 of 2016, is hereby set-aside. He is being acquitted of the offenses under Sections 302 and 376 of the IPC and under Section 4 of the Act, 2012. The appellant, Mohd. Azhar, should be freed from judicial custody immediately.

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About the Author: Meera Verma