The police failed to produce call records to establish the ransom demand and had just one eyewitness
SADHNA KUMAR Mumbai
In what appeared to be a watertight case, a Mumbai sessions court on Monday acquitted four pers
ons accused of kidnapping and murdering city teenager Adnan Patrawala in 2007.
The 16- year- old boys murder case had all the ingredients of a potboiler. His alleged killers were young and included two teenagers.
They had befriended the rich Andheri businessmans son on Orkut, a hugely popular site for social networking. But after they kidnapped him, they saw reports on the abduction on a television channel and lost their nerve. In a state of panic, they allegedly decided to strangle him.
The verdict came as a strong indictment of Mumbai Police with the Sessions Judge observing that the police had handled the forensic and circumstantial evidence in the case in a hamhanded manner. So, instead of complimenting each other, the different pieces of information rattled around in a largely incongruous narrative against the accused.
The juvenile justice board is trying the fifth accused in the case, a minor. But given the line of thinking in the Sessions Court – that there was not enough evidence to prove that the arrested men were guilty – he too is likely to be acquitted.
” It is a shocking verdict.
We are very, very upset.
Those who have been acquitted had betrayed my son. We will not give up and plan to appeal in a higher court,” said Adnans dejected father Aslam Patrawala.
Outside the court, defence lawyer Ashish Chavan said the prosecution had ” miserably failed” to prove the charges.
It was the prosecution case that the four accused – Ayush Bhatt, Sujit Nair, Rajeev Dhariya and Amit Kaushal – had telephoned Adnans parent to demand a ransom of 2 crore and warned that they would murder the boy, if the matter was reported to the police. However, cell phone records of some of the accused, which were produced in the court, did not include the crucial details of three different calls made to Adnans father for ransom.
The only eyewitness produced by the police was the last person to see Adnan live.
The court also found it hard to believe that the murder was planned to the last detail in a busy mall. It also rubbished the conspiracy theories propounded by the prosecution. With the chain of circumstances not being established, the verdict went in favour of the Defence,” Counsel Ashish Chavan told reporters.
On the evening of August 18, 2007, Adnan took his fathers Skoda to meet his friends at a gaming parlour at a mall in northwest Mumbai. The group of five people he was meeting used to interact with him regularly on Orkut. According to the police, they had zeroed in on him after scanning the site for other potential victims. Adnan appeared to be trusting and came from a wealthy family.
Adnans parents lodged a police complaint after he went missing but the news of his abduction was leaked out to media. The kidnappers, in turn, lost their nerve and murdered him. Adnans body was found abandoned in his car on Palm Beach road in Navi Mumbai.