Bombay High Court let off man convicted for raping and killing minor girl

Mumbai: In an unusual ruling, the Bombay High Court recently let off a man, convicted for raping and killing a minor girl. The court, while acquitting the man, said he was only sleeping ‘peacefully’ besides the six-year-old victim’s dead body. A division bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Sarang Kotwal held that there are chances someone else would have raped the minor girl and disposed her body in the convict’s hut.

The bench also underscored that since there was heavy police bandobast during Ganpati immersion celebrations, it was hardly possible for the convict to kidnap the girl from her hut and then take her to his shanty and commit the offence.  The bench was hearing a criminal appeal filed by Sandip Gaikwad, who was lodged in Nasik central prison.

Having heard the submissions advanced, the bench said, “The only evidence against Gaikwad is that he was found sleeping besides the victim girl. Gaikwad’s conduct that he was sleeping peacefully besides the victim, does not fit with the allegations levelled against him.”

The judges noted that the accused was living in a hut made up of fishing nets and there were no doors to it, paving the way for anyone to enter and exit the hut. “Therefore, the possibility cannot be ruled out that somebody else, after commission of the offence, could have kept the dead body near him. There is a strong possibility that someone else could have committed the offence,” the bench added.
The bench also trashed the argument of the victim’s family and the prosecution that Gaikwad kidnapped the girl from her hut. “Admittedly, those were the days of heavy rush and police bandobast at night. The evidence shows that police officers were present near the spot where the victim was found,” the bench noted.

According to the prosecution case, Gaikwad was arrested by the Cuffe Parade police during Ganpati immersion celebrations in 2009, after he was found lying beside the body of the victim girl. The prosecution claimed that Gaikwad kidnapped the victim from her hut, took her to his own and then raped and killed the girl. The bench acquitted Gaikwad saying the prosecution had only gathered ‘circumstantial’ evidence against him and failed to connect all the sequences together to establish his guilt. “Considering the prosecution evidence, it is clear that family members and witnesses are not telling any false stories. However, the case of the prosecution still does not travel beyond suspicion,” the bench said while quashing the judgment pronounced by the Sewree sessions court in October 2010 against Gaikwad.

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