The Delhi High Court on Thursday acquitted a man of the charges of raping and murdering an 81-year-old widow in 2014 at her south Delhi residence four years ago.
The High Court however dubbed the crime as “horrific” and said that an elderly woman had been done to death in the most inhuman manner.
A bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel acquitted domestic help Neeraj Safi of the charges pressed under Sections 302 (murder), 375 (rape) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code.
The High Court order to set aside a trial court’s conviction order came on Safi’s appeal.
“Howsoever strong a suspicion might be, it cannot constitute proof and is insufficient to return a finding of guilt. The case against the appellant had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution has failed to do that in the present case,” the bench said.
Safi, a resident of Madhubani in Bihar, was accused of the crime at his employer’s Greater Kailash-II house on July 7, 2014. On January 31 2017, the trial court convicted Safi of rape, murder and destruction of evidence.
The High Court also said that the prosecution has failed to prove the motive of the crime as nothing belonging to the deceased was in fact stolen and other household items remained untouched.
“The trial court overlooked the above legal position and erred in holding that not proving the motive was not fatal to the case of the prosecution,” the court said.
The High Court also found that there are too many gaps in the chain of circumstances leading to the crime.
“Neither the forensics report nor the post-mortem conclusively establishes that it was the appellant who had any sexual contact with the deceased,” the court said.
“With medical and forensic evidence ruling out the possibility of the appellant having committed the sexual assault on the deceased, the prosecution has failed to prove the motive for the crime.”
Police had said that the woman’s post-mortem revealed that she was beaten up, strangled with a dupatta and set on fire.