Mumbai: After spending almost two years in prison, a 52-year-old man, sentenced to life imprisonment for raping and murdering a mentally disabled woman in 2010, was acquitted by the Bombay High Court, observing that the prosecution has failed to prove its case against him beyond reasonable doubt.
A division bench of Justices P V Hardas and A S Gadkari was hearing an appeal filed by the accused Ashok Nirbhawane challenging the May 2012 judgement of a sessions court in Nashik convicting and sentencing him to life imprisonment in the rape and murder case of a mentally disabled woman in Chandwad in Nashik district.
According to the prosecution, on December 26, 2010 the body of the victim, was found by her brother Sanjay at their house.
Sanjay informed the police that a month before the incident he had seen the accused trying to force himself on his sister at their house.
Sanjay had then slapped the accused and informed the accused`s son.
Based on his statement, the police arrested Nirbhawane and booked for raping and murdering the victim.
The High Court after perusing the evidence observed that the prosecution has not been able to prove its case.
"There is no evidence tendered by the prosecution that the accused was seen near the house of the victim at about the time when the crime was committed. The medical evidence clearly rules out that rape had been committed. Merely on the basis of the semen stain on the quilt an inference cannot be drawn that rape had been committed on the deceased," the court said.
The court further held that there is no evidence to suggest in any manner that it was Nirbhawane who had committed the crime.
"The circumstances so established by the prosecution fall woefully short of completing the chain of circumstances which would unquestionable point to the guilt of the accused. In the absence of evidence in that behalf, no reliance at all can be placed on the evidence of the prosecution witness," the court observed.
The bench set aside and quashed Nirbhawane`s conviction under sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) of IPC and his life sentence and ordered for him to be released forthwith.