The Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of a 33-year-old man from Palghar who raped and murdered a four-year-old girl in Sept 2009.
A division bench of justices VK Tahilramani and Ajey Gadkari upheld Ananta Chaudhary's conviction observing: "The circumstances exclude every hypothesis of innocence of the appellant and unquestionably point the finger of guilt at him."
Chaudhary had filed an appeal challenging his conviction by the sessions court. On April 27, 2011, the Palghar sessions court had found him guilty of rape and murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,500.
Swapnil Ovalekar from Legal Aid was appointed to represent Chaudhary in the HC.
According to additional public prosecutor VR Bhonsale, on Sept 20, 2009, a woman reported that her minor daughter had been found murdered in the bushes near their house. The day before, she had seen Chaudhary, who stays in the neighbourhood, talking to her 4-year-old daughter when she was leaving for work after having fed her daughter who had come back from nursery school. She however did not raise an alarm as Chaudhary was known to them.
When she returned in the evening, she found her daughter missing. Her neighbours, including Chaudhary, helped in searching for her. And it was Chaudhary who suggested that the girl could have wandered off into the nearby bushes. The girl's body was soon found in the bushes. There was blood on her frock and injury marks on her body.
The woman lodged an FIR with the police the next day. Medical report showed the girl had been raped and murdered.
Following investigations, Chaudhary was arrested the next day (Sept 21). During interrogation he revealed where he had concealed the clothes he had worn when he committed the crime. The police recovered the clothes, including a blood-stained pants. And chemical analysis found semen on the clothes.
Ovalekar argued that there were discrepancies in the mother's statement before the police and her testimony in the sessions court. According to him, the colour of the girl's frock were different in these statements.
However, the HC judges ruled out that the discrepancy in the colour of the frock was minor in nature. Upholding the sentence, they observed: "The circumstances so established form a complete chain which excludes every hypothesis of innocence of the appellant and unquestionably point the finger of guilt at him. In our opinion, the circumstances which emerge from the record can draw only one inference i.e., the appellant and the appellant alone has committed the crime."