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Bombay HC sets aside man's death penalty for killing woman, child

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
The Bombay High Court Tuesday set free a Nashik man who was sentenced to death last year by a court here for killing a 32-year-old woman and her 6-year-old child.
A bench of justices BP Dharmadhikari and P D Naik held that the police failed to carry out proper investigation and build a watertight case against convict Ramdas Shinde.
The bench, therefore, dismissed the Maharashtra government's plea seeking confirmation of the death penalty, and upheld Shinde's appeals challenging his conviction and sentence.
On April 26 last year, the court in Nashik had convicted and sentenced Shinde for stabbing to death the woman and her child, who stayed as tenants in his father's property.
The prosecution had claimed that the victim woman had snubbed Shinde's sexual advances and, therefore, on April 18, 2016, while his wife and children were away, he went to the victim's house and killed her and her son.
The victim's body had 24 stab wounds, including wounds on her private parts, and the child's body had 28 stab wounds, the prosecution claimed.
However, Shinde approached the high court last year challenging his conviction and sentence through pleas filed through his counsel advocate Aniket Nikam.
Nikam told the high court the police had failed to investigate the case properly and that there existed several loopholes in the prosecution's theory and the evidence presented on record.
He argued that the prosecution's case relied mainly on circumstantial evidence, but the prosecution had failed to establish a cogent chain of evidence.
He pointed out that the police had failed to produce Shinde's clothes and possessions before the trial court even though it claimed the clothes and possessions had blood stains on them.
The police had also relied upon the recording of two phone calls made by Shinde to his friend Subhash on the night of the incident, whereby, he allegedly confessed to the crime.
Nikam, however, pointed out that while Subhash had initially recorded a statement before a magistrate confirming such calls, he had later turned hostile and alleged that the police had coerced him into making the initial statement.
Besides, he said, the police had also failed to seize Subhash's mobile phone till about two weeks after the crime.
Therefore, there was enough chance of tampering of evidence, Nikam said.
The prosecution, through advocate Prajakta Shinde, denied the charges of tampering of evidence.
However, the court held that Nikam's arguments on insufficient and unconvincing probe could not be ignored.
"We find that the Investigating Officer has not investigated all links and clues to ensure that nobody else could have committed the ghastly double murder, or to show that the accused could be the only culprit," the bench said.
"The material on record is insufficient to rule out the involvement of any other person in the matter," it said while setting aside the Nashik court order.

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First Published: Apr 30 2019 | 9:05 PM IST

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