Jaipur: While sentencing the two minors accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching for three years in a special home, the Juvenile Justice Board in Alwar stated, “The horrific and shameful act [of lynching] has been presented as saving gau-mata (cows) but the court is of the opinion that no mother would ever permit her sons to murder anyone in her name. If they [mob] had found anything objectionable, they should have handed over the suspects to the police; the police station was barely two kilometres away [from the site of the lynching]”
“There is already a strict law in place for the protection the bovine animals. If the people would take the law in their hand, then there would be no meaning of being a democracy. This is totally unacceptable. In this 21st century, when India is world’s largest democratic and secular country, some anti-social elements are brainwashing the youth in the name of religion and making them part of illegal groups [Gau-raksha dal] to carry out the killings,” the judgment adds.
The board also raised questions over the medical conduct of the doctors at the Kailash hospital, a private hospital in Behror where Khan was admitted immediately after he was lynched by the cow vigilantes. He succumbed to injuries two days later.
The Juvenile Justice Board, in its judgment, has raised suspicion over the conduct of the doctors at Kailash hospital – RC Yadav, Akhil Saxena, BD Sharma and Jitendra Butolia – who had given different statements over the injuries inflicted on Pehlu Khan.
Saxena had said that there were only minor injuries on Khan’s body, Sharma stated that Khan had a fracture in his ribs, Yadav said that Khan’s stomach was normal in the sonography test and there were no injuries on his body, and Butolia had said that there were multiple fractures in his ribs but no apparent injury.
Later, the doctors had unanimously certified that Khan died of a heart attack. “How come without performing any test, the doctors concluded that Pehlu Khan died of a heart attack? Since when in medical science, does the opinion and experience of a doctor replace the test to reach out to a conclusion?” reads the verdict.
During the trial of the six (adults) of the nine accused, the statements of the doctors at the Kailash hospital had contradicted the post-mortem report of the Behror Community Health Care that suggested assault to be the cause of death. This impeded the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and ultimately, the six accused were given ‘benefit of doubt’ and acquitted.
The Board has issued notices to the four doctors to answer “their objective in changing the cause of death from assault to heart attack”.
Interestingly, the Kailash hospital is owned by Mahesh Sharma, Bhartiya Janta Party’s member of parliament from Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh and one of the doctors involved in the case R.C. Yadav had also contested the 2018 assembly elections from the Behror constituency on a Congress ticket.
A DVD of the lynching and photographs of the minors depicting active participation in the mob were developed from the video recorded by the eye-witness and submitted to the Board with certification required under section 65-B of the Indian Evidence Act.
“Both the minors were seen kicking and hitting Khan with a belt along in the video,” read the judgment.
The same video couldn’t be admitted in the Alwar court during the trial of the six of the nine accused as it lacked the certification and led to their acquittal.
“There were several loopholes in the case relating to the documentary evidence. We made sure that the video is certified as per the procedure. The Board also took notice of the post-mortem report that suggested that Pehlu Khan died of the injuries inflicted by the mob,” Rajesh Yagyik, former member of the Juvenile Justice Board who retired last month told The Wire.
Tyagi also said that the third minor in the case, upon the preliminary assessment of his mental and physical capacity to commit a heinous offence and ability to understand its consequences, was ordered to be tried as an adult and consequently his trial was transferred to the POCSO (protection of children from sexual offences) Act Court under the district judge in Alwar.
The minors have been sentenced for rioting (section 147), wrongful restraint (section 341), voluntary causing hurt (section 323), mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50 (section 427) and murder (section 302) read with every member of the unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object (section 149) of the Indian Penal Code.
They were given “benefit of doubt” under sections 379 (punishment for theft) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide).