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HC acquits eight accused in kidnap-murder case

The Allahabad High Court acquitted eight people, convicted of kidnapping and killing a 38-year-old woman in Ghaziabad, on the ground that in cases based on circumstantial evidence, suspicion, however strong, cannot replace proof. The eight had been convicted by a sessions court in Ghaziabad on November 23, 2009 for the incident that occurred in 2006. […]

The Allahabad High Court acquitted eight people, convicted of kidnapping and killing a 38-year-old woman in Ghaziabad, on the ground that in cases based on circumstantial evidence, suspicion, however strong, cannot replace proof. The eight had been convicted by a sessions court in Ghaziabad on November 23, 2009 for the incident that occurred in 2006.

The appellants whose separate criminal appeals have been allowed through a common order are Sandeep, his brother Pradeep, father Mahendra, Murad Ali, Kali Ram, Mahesh Chandra, Devendra and Manish. The court has allowed release of Manish and Mahendra on bail, while the other appellants were already on bail.

The prosecution’s main allegation was that the accused had kidnapped the woman, Seema, who was Sandeep’s wife, in an ambassador car from outside the civil court in Hapur on April 5, 2006. They had allegedly killed her and then dumped her body in Hiranpur jungle under Garhmukteshwar police station area of Ghaziabad where it was found on April 6, 2006. An FIR for murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence was registered on complaint of Seema’s mother Saroj and brother Rajiv, the next day.

Passing the order Wednesday, a division bench of Justices Sheo Kumar Singh and Vinod Prasad said: “In cases based on circumstantial evidence, each ring of circumstance woven together must present a complete chain and it must be a pointer only to the guilt of the accused without admitting any other hypothesis or exception.”

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Saroj and Rajiv had said that they, along with Seema, had gone to the civil court in Hapur, in connection with a civil suit regarding alleged grabbing of Saroj’s ancestral property on April 5, 2006. Pradeep, Lallu and Dhannattar had allegedly grabbed the house.

They claimed to have seen all the accused – who had come in an ambassador car and two motorcycles – outside the civil court. Sandeep, who had already filed a divorce suit, then allegedly approached them for a compromise.
The complaint states that Saroj then allowed Seema to go with Sandeep, while she went inside the court premises. Seema, however, did not return and her body was found in a jungle at Hiranpur.

The court, however, said that with neither Saroj nor Rajiv were present at the spot when the alleged kidnapping took place, and with nothing else to establish the chain of events, the same cannot be believed as evidence.

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The court also noted Seema was not having a good marital relationship with Sandeep and the latter had filed a divorce suit. Seema had also got a case lodged against Sandeep under IPC section 498-A (husband or in-laws inflicting cruelty on women) and under Dowry Prohibition Act.

The court said that this could have given motive to Saroj and Rajiv to implicate Sandeep and others.

First published on: 31-01-2014 at 03:26 IST
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