Double murder: Bombay HC acquits man on death row citing fabricated evidence

The court noted that after going through the evidence, it can “safely conclude that both Rajkumar and Geetadevi would not have been conscious to record their respective dying declarations”

Urvi Mahajani | Updated on: Saturday, May 07, 2022, 08:22 AM IST


Severely criticising the prosecution for not just shoddy investigation but also “fabricating evidence”, the Bombay High Court on Friday acquitted a man who was sentenced to death for allegedly killing his colleague and his wife by pouring acid on them while they were sleeping. The court observed that otherwise the same would be “travesty of justice”, and ordered the immediate release of Guddu Yadav from Yerawada Central prison in Pune.

A division bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and Milind Jadhav observed, “After having appreciated the entire evidence on record, the material discrepancies, lacunae and blatant illegalities as alluded to herein above, we would definitely indicate that the prosecution has utterly failed in connecting the dots and bringing home the guilt of the accused.”

The HC was hearing a death confirmation petition filed by the state government. A death sentence awarded by a sessions court has to be confirmed by the HC before it can be executed.

According to the prosecution, in November 2015, Yadav allegedly stole his colleague Rajkumar Ravidas’ mobile phone. Ravidas complained to their employer about it and the latter reprimanded Yadav and asked him to return the phone. After the incident, Yadav allegedly wanted to take revenge. On the night of November 6, 2015, at about 2.30 am, Yadav went to company’s quarters in Boisar where Ravidas used to live with his wife. The prosecution claimed that he went there with a bucket containing 10-litre concentrated sulphuric acid and poured it on the couple while they were asleep.

Further the prosecution claimed that the police had recorded multiple dying declarations of the couple after they were rushed to the hospital.

On May 9, 2019, the sessions court at Palghar found Yadav guilty of double murder and sentenced him to death observing that it was “a unique case beyond imagination and a crime of such a nature which is undeserving of any sympathy or mercy.”

Disagreeing, the HC said, “Merely because the crime is heinous and brutal, it would not be just to get carried away sans any legal proof required to substantiate the charge of murder. The standard of proof applied by the learned trial court is not in consonance with the evidence placed on record.” It can at the most be a case of “strong suspicion” and the same “cannot take the place of proof”, said the HC.

The court noted that after going through the evidence of the doctor and the nurse who first attended the couple, it can “safely conclude that both Rajkumar and Geetadevi would not have been conscious to record their respective dying declarations”.

Rejecting the government’s conformation petition, the HC said that the “investigating machinery has a responsibility to investigate in a fair and neutral manner without having regard to the ultimate result”.

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Published on: Saturday, May 07, 2022, 08:22 AM IST