The Bombay High Court on Tuesday acquitted an 82-year-old Pune resident who was sentenced to life for raping and murdering a minor girl in 2009. While setting aside the conviction, the high court observed that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against the accused.
A division bench of justices PV Hardas and AS Gadkari acquitted Mohaniraj Yashwant Kulkarni, who, as per a Pune court, had raped and murdered the 10-year-old daughter of his domestic help at his home.
The court, while discarding the testimony of the mother of the victim, said: "Any normal person would have raised the roof by crying aloud for help and would have rushed out of the house on being informed by the appellant that he had committed the crime. Rekha remained cool, calm and collected and did everything at the bidding of the appellant. This certainly is not the reaction and behaviour of any normal person, particularly that of a mother, to whom it is disclosed that the person instructing her to destroy the evidence is the perpetrator of the crime against her daughter."
The court also raised doubts on the prosecution for not examining certain witnesses to prove the chain of circumstances leading to the death of the victim. It said, "On the basis of rickety evidence, the prosecution has failed to complete the chain of circumstances against the accused."
As per the prosecution case, the accused had allegedly raped and murdered the minor on October 14, 2009 on the terrace of his house. He had then, with the help of the victim's mother, tried to destroy the evidence. The police initially arrested the mother of the victim. She later turned approver, named Kulkarni as the accused and was granted pardon.
During the trial, the accused pleaded not guilty and the prosecution examined nine witnesses to bring home the guilt of the accused. Based on the confessional statement of the victim's mother, the session's court convicted the accused in 2012. This order was challenged in the high court.