The woman’s husband had told the doctor that she was raped by her brother-in-law who had then poured kerosene oil and burnt her alive.
New Delhi: A dead man got justice in a 25-year-old rape and murder case of a relative after his son approached the Delhi high court to decide the matter posthumously.
The high court acquitted a man of the charges of raping and murdering his sister-in-law in 1993 and reversed the judgment of a trial court which had awarded him life imprisonment for the offences.
The court granted benefit of doubt to the man, who had died in April 2016, saying it was not safe to base his conviction on the dying declaration of the deceased woman who had suffered 100 per cent burn injuries.
The acquittal judgment came as a breather for the family, with the high court also saying that his kin could now persuade the man’s employer, Engine-ers India Ltd, a public-sector undertaking under the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, to reverse its decision to dismiss him from service and release his emoluments and other dues to them.
A bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta pulled up the police for lapse in the investigation of the case and said the material available on record has been contradicted on several points.
The bench also said the forensic evidence has “failed to corroborate the important aspect of the dying declaration, that is the commission of rape on the deceased by the appellant prior to her being burnt alive”.
“The substantive portions of the dying declaration have not been corroborated by the other evidence that has been gathered by the prosecution. As already mentioned, the forensic evidence in fact negates the charge of rape having been committed on the deceased shortly prior to her death.
“In a case of this nature, the prosecution had to make an effort to rule out the possibility that the deceased may have committed suicide,” the bench said.
The case dates back to April 1993 when the police received an information that a woman had died of burns in Sagarpur area of Southwest Delhi after being taken to the Safdarjung Hospital by her husband.
The woman’s husband had told the doctor that she was raped by her brother-in-law who had then poured kerosene oil and burnt her alive, the police had said.
The case of the prosecution, represented through prosecutor Amit Chadha in the high court, rested essentially on the dying declaration of the woman purportedly made to the investigating officer of the case.
The police registered a case against the woman’s brother-in-law.