The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday set aside the conviction of former BSP minister Anand Sen Yadav and his woman associate Seema Azad in the case of kidnapping and murder of Faizabads law student Shashi in October 2007.
The two,along with Vijay Sen,who was personal driver of Yadav,were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Faizabad court in May 2011.
The division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Devendra Kumar Arora gave Yadav and Azad benefit of doubt.
It reduced Vijays sentence to 10 years imprisonment on charges of kidnapping and violation of the SC/ST Act. The court also sentenced him to two years imprisonment for destruction of evidence.
Shashi,the daughter of a local BSP activist of Faizabad,went missing on October 22,2007. Her body was never found. Her father alleged she had been killed by the minister.
The high court observed that taking a holistic view and the totality of circumstances of the case,the trial court has erred in drawing the conclusion that all three accused were involved in the alleged crime.
The order stated,We hold that the prosecution has failed to establish the guilt of the accused Seema Azad and Anand Sen Yadav beyond all shadow of doubts. Both the accused are entitled for the benefit of doubt.
The court,however,held Vijay guilty of kidnapping and destruction of evidence on the basis of call details. Moreover,his half-hearted confession,coupled with the result of the narco test and the recovery of the Alto car used in the commission of offence established his involvement in the crime and kidnapping of Shashi. But we are unable to accept his conviction under Section 302 IPC,the order said.
Anand,who was Minister of State for Food Processing in the Mayawati government,had to resign after he was named in the case in November 2007.
Shashi,24,a final-year law student at Saket Mahavidyalaya in Ayodhya,allegedly had an affair with Anand,who was a regular visitor to her father Yogendra Prasad. She was allegedly killed after she became pregnant and insisted that the minister marry her.
Vijay had taken her away while she was returning home from her friends place on October 22,2007,on the pretext of meeting the minister in his private car. Seema,who was Shashis classmate,was also in the car. After this,Shashi was never seen.
Initially,Yogendra Prasad lodged a missing complaint. Later,while going through his daughters papers,he realised that Shashi had been having an affair with the minister. He informed the local police about his suspicion,but they paid no attention. Then he went to Lucknow and held a dharna at Vidhan Sabha for three days. On October 31,the police registered a case against Vijay and Seema.
During investigation,the police found Anands involvement,and he resigned from the ministry in November 2007. In June 2008,he surrendered in court and was sent to jail.
Yogendra Prasad said he would file an appeal against the High Court judgment to ensure that accused do not go scot free.