Convicted By SC For Rape & Murder 10 Yrs Ago, Six Men Get Acquitted By Apex Court Now
For the first time in history, the Supreme Court of India has reversed its 10-year-old order and acquitted six men who had been charged under rape and murder case for the past sixteen years.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri in its judgment held Maharashtra’s police responsible for misconducting the probe in this matter and directed the state government to take disciplinary action against officials whose “lapses” allowed the real culprits to go scot-free.
The court has also ordered the Maharashtra government to pay Rs five lakh each to six accused and asked the sessions court to ensure that the amount for their rehabilitation, reported The Times of India.
“We direct the Chief Secretary, Home Department, State of Maharashtra to look into the matter and identify such erring officers/officials responsible for failure of a prosecution case, on account of sheer negligence or because of culpable lapses, real culprits are out of the clutches of law and because of whose lapses the case has resulted in acquittal in a case where five persons were killed brutally and one lady was subjected to even rape,” the bench said.
What exactly happened?
In June 2003, the Maharashtra Police arrested the six men- Ankush Mrui Shinde, Rajya Appa Shinde, Ambadas Laxman Shinde, Raju Mhasu Shinde, Bapu Appa Shinde and Suresh Shinde for the murder of five members of a family and raping a woman (who survived) and her 15-year-old daughter (who died).
According to the prosecution, “The family was chatting after dinner at about 10.30 pm when “seven to eight unknown persons” robbed and fatally attacked them. The criminals left, assuming all of them to be dead, but a third son Manoj and Satote’s wife survived case records show. The police case rested on the testimony of the wife but the court found several inconsistencies in her evidence. The Supreme Court found that though the wife, in her statement given two days after the crime to the Special Executive Magistrate, “identified four named persons from the album of the photographs of notorious criminals”, this aspect was not probed by police, reported The Indian Express.
In June 2006, the Sessions Court convicted the accused and sentenced them to death. Later, the High Court awarded death penalty to three accused and life imprisonment with fine to the other three. In 2009, the three who had been awarded the death penalty appealed to the apex court but the two-judge bench dismissed the appeal. Meanwhile, the other three also filed review pleas saying they were never heard by the Supreme Court before restoring the death sentence, reported by The Indian Express.
In 2018, the Apex Court allowed the review and decided to hear afresh the criminal appeals filed by them and the state.
Yesterday while hearing of this case, the Supreme Court said, “The conviction and sentence imposed by the High Court cannot be sustained as the prosecution has failed to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, we have no other alternative, but to acquit the accused for the offences for which they are convicted.”