The Bombay High Court on Friday acquitted a Thane resident sentenced to death for raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl from his neighbourhood in Lokmanya Nagar. The incident had happened in 2009.
A division bench of justices VK Tahilramani and VL Achliya set aside the conviction handed down to Chandrasekhar Gupta and pronounced only the operative part of the order. The reasoned order will be available in a few days.
As per the prosecution case, the incident took place on December 24, 2009, evening. The seven-year-old victim was playing with her friends near the foothills at Lokmanya Nagar. Gupta, who lived in the same locality, lured her with chocolates to a secluded part of the hill and raped her.
The police claimed that he panicked after seeing the girl bleed profusely and decided to kill her to prevent her from reporting the incident to her parents. He then stoned her to death and abandoned the body at the site. The girl's parents filed a missing complaint that evening and at around 8am the next day, residents of the locality spotted her body.
The police learnt from the locals that Gupta was the last to be seen with the girl. On the basis of suspicion, they picked Gupta up. During preliminary investigation, the police found blood stains on his shirt and he was arrested.
Married a year prior to the incident, Gupta was staying alone since his wife had gone to her maternal home for delivery. The prosecution case before the trial court was primarily based on circumstantial evidence and in October 2013, the trial court convicted and sentenced Gupta to death.
Appearing for Gupta, advocate Pankaj Kavale argued that the place of incident was about a kilometre from the house of the victim and the accused had met the deceased's father within 30 minutes of the girl went missing. Thus, it would not have been possible for the accused to commit the crime and come back in half-an-hour. Further, Gupta was beaten up by the girl's father and his neighbours, and thus he had injury marks on his body and blood stains on his clothes.