The Madhya Pradesh High Court overturned a trial court judgment sentencing a man to death for the murder of five people, including four minors, and ordered his release.
Holding that the prosecution failed to establish the charges against Ankur alias Nitesh Dixit, who was 26 when he was arrested, a division bench in Gwalior, comprising justices Sanjay Yadav and Vivek Agrawal, set aside the conviction Monday.
Dixit was accused of killing a widow, her minor daughter and two other minor relatives in Bhind. The bodies of the five were found on May 14, 2016, at the residence of the widow’s father-in-law.
According to the prosecution’s case, Nitesh killed the minors because they found out about his relationship with the woman and then killed her as well, to eliminate all evidence. The woman had stab injuries and the minors died of asphyxiation.
“Leaving him alive is endangering the safety of people and society,’’ the trial judge had said in his 115-page judgment.
The MP High Court’s judgment came on an appeal filed against the trial court decision. In it, the defence argued that there were contradictions in the prosecution’s theory and that the police concluded its investigation “in a predetermined manner to falsely implicate the accused” by examining only close relatives but not important witnesses — including the widow’s father, who lived nearby, and immediate neighbours. It also argued that from the post-mortem report, it was evident from the the positions of the bodies that a single individual had not committed the crime.
In its order, the HC bench noted that “since there are major contradictions and omissions in the evidence led by the prosecution, resulting in non-completion of the chain of circumstances, indicating and establishing the guilt of the accused, the accused can’t be sent to the gallows on the basis of such evidence.’’