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Couple acquitted of charges of killing daughter


Mumbai: Giving benefit of doubt, the Bombay High Court has acquitted a couple convicted for the murder of their three-year-old daughter at Jategaon village in Nandgaon taluka of Nashik district.

Roshni, who was staying with her father Haribhau Varpe and step-mother Usha Varpe, was found dead in the house in 2012 and the postmortem report indicated that she was strangulated.

Haribhau and Usha were arrested and convicted for the murder by a Malegaon court. Being aggrieved, they filed an appeal in the High Court.

“We find that the prosecution has utterly failed to prove the offence punishable under section 302 (murder) read with 34 (common intention) of IPC against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In our opinion, the appellants are entitled to be given the benefit of doubt,” said Justices Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi and P V Hardas in their order on March 12.

“Merely because a body was found in the house cannot be a ground for prosecuting all the inmates of the house. In this case, it is true that deceased Roshni had died an unnatural death. However, there is no evidence to connect the appellants with the commission of crime,” said the judges.

The judges were of the opinion that the prosecution had utterly failed to prove the presence of the accused at the scene of the offence.

“The prosecution has also not been able to establish the time of death and consequently it cannot claim that the accused have failed to explain the death of the deceased,” the bench observed.

The bench held that there is no evidence in respect of the motive.

“In cases resting on circumstantial evidence, motive as a circumstance assumes importance. In the present case, we find that there is no evidence about the exact time of death,” it observed.

“There is no evidence regarding motive for appellant Haribhau to commit murder of his own daughter and there is no evidence that he was present near the scene of the incident at relevant time when the offence is alleged to have been committed,” the judges noted.

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