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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has acquitted three men sentenced to death for the gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old in Delhi in 2012 citing ‘glaring lapses’ in investigation, prompting her family to note that the court had let them down after an 11-year-long fight.
In 2014, a trial court had first awarded the death penalty to the three accused, Rahul, Ravi and Vinod, calling the case “rarest of rare”. The three men are accused of abducting, raping and brutally killing the woman in February 2012. Her mutilated body was found three days after she was abducted. The judgment was later upheld by the Delhi high court.
A bench of Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and Justices Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi set aside the judgment of the high court, LiveLaw has reported.
The bench is understood to have come down heavily on the investigation.
“From the… evidence of the concerned witnesses, it clearly transpires that neither any T.I. (test identification) parade was conducted by the investigating officer during the course of investigation for the identification of the accused, nor any of the witnesses had identified the accused during their respective depositions before the court. Therefore, the very identity of the appellants-accused having not been duly established, the entire case of the prosecution falls flat on the very first circumstance having not been duly proved by any evidence, much less clinching evidence, against the appellants-accused,” the court said, according to Indian Express.
The Express report also has it that in addition to pointing out “glaring lapses” in the investigation, the apex court bench also likened the trial court’s role to that of a “passive umpire’s”.
“Even after 11 years, this is the verdict. We have lost it…We lost the battle…I was living with this hope…I have lost my will to live. I thought my daughter would get justice,” the mother of the deceased told the news agency PTI.
The victim’s father said the apex court has “let them down” and that he felt as if “what was supposed to happen with criminals ultimately happened” to them.
“It has been 11 years since we have been running from pillar to post. The lower court also announced its verdict. We were relieved. From High Court also we were given assurance. But Supreme Court let us down. What was supposed to happen with criminals ultimately happened with us,” he told PTI.
He also alleged that the system was taking advantage of their poverty.
“The law and order system in our country is not for poor people. If this had happened with a rich influential person or a politician, would they also have faced the same fate like us? Overall, it’s like taking advantage of poverty,” he added.
According to the prosecution, the woman worked in Gurugram’s Cyber City area and belonged to Uttarakhand. She was returning from her workplace and was near her home when the three men abducted her in a car. When she didn’t return home, her parents lodged a missing person report, the prosecution said, adding that the woman’s mutilated and decomposed body was found in a village in Haryana’s Rewari.
The police found multiple injuries on the woman’s body. Further investigation and autopsy revealed she was attacked with car tools, glass bottles, metal objects, and other weapons. She was also raped, they said.
Police arrested the three men involved in the crime and said one of the accused allegedly took revenge after the woman turned down his proposal.
(With PTI inputs)