Man On Death Row Convicted Of Double Murder Acquitted Citing Fabrication Of Evidence: In Bombay High Court

Guddu Krish Yadav, who was sentenced to death by the Palghar Sessions Court in 2015 for the double murder of a colleague and his wife by allegedly pouring acid on the sleeping couple in retaliation for reporting theft to their employer, was acquitted by the Bombay High Court on Friday.

The High Court was hearing a death confirmation petition filed by the state government because a death sentence handed down by a session court must be confirmed by the High Court before it can be carried out.

The death confirmation plea was rejected by a Division bench of Honourable Justices Sadhana S Jadhav and Milind N Jadhav in the case of The State of Maharashtra vs Guddu Krish Yadav (Sessions Case No. 3 of 2016), observing that the trial was conducted in the “most casual manner” and the prosecution had “suppressed and fabricated vital evidence.”

“After reviewing the entire evidence on file, including the material discrepancies, lacunae, and blatant illegalities, we conclude that the prosecution has completely failed to connect the dots and establish the accused’s guilt. Simply because the crime is heinous and brutal, it would be unjust to let the accused go free without any legal evidence to back up the charge of murder”the bench stated

Facts of the Case:

According to the prosecution, Yadav allegedly stole his colleague’s phone on November 5, 2015, and the colleague then complained to their employer. As a result, the boss summoned Yadav and asked him to return the phone. This allegedly prompted Yadav to seek vengeance. Yadav allegedly went to the company’s quarters – where his colleague stayed with his wife – in the early hours of November 6, 2015, with a bucket of concentrated sulphuric acid and poured it on them while they were sleeping. The couple was taken to the hospital, where the husband died four hours later and the wife died the following day.

The police relied on the couple’s and two other employees’ dying declarations as key eyewitnesses to the incident. On May 9, 2019, the Palghar Sessions Court convicted Yadav and sentenced him to death, citing “a unique case beyond imagination and a crime of such a nature, which is undeserving of any sympathy or mercy.”

Following that, the state government petitioned the High Court for confirmation of Yadav’s death sentence. Yadav contended that, based on the evidence, there was significant discrepancy and contradiction about the time of the deaths, and thus the dying declarations could not be admitted as evidence.

Court’s Findings:

The court stated that after reviewing the evidence of the doctor and nurse who first attended to the murdered couple, it was abundantly clear that they were not conscious enough to record a dying declaration.

The bench took note of “The prosecution’s evidence is riddled with major inconsistencies… The trial was conducted in a casual manner, and whether it was just and fair in a capital punishment case remains an open question. The evidence presented is of poor quality and lacks credibility “

Referring to the Supreme Court case of Ashish Batham vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2002 Supreme Court 3206, in which it was held that charges must be proved beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of clear, cogent, credible, or unimpeachable evidence, and the question of indicting or punishing an accused does not arise, merely carried away by the heinous nature of the crime or the gruesome manner in which it was found to have been committed, The bench reached the unequivocal conclusion that the prosecution not only suppressed vital evidence but also purposefully fabricated the deceased’s dying declaration, which forms the basis of its case. The bench Yadav was thus found not guilty.

Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.

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