The Delhi High Court today convicted a man for raping an eight-year-old girl, saying the trial court acquitted him due to erroneous view of the law and a "patently illegal" approach in dealing with the evidence.
While setting aside the man's acquittal in the five-year-old case, a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji also noted that the initial DNA report given in the case by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Rohini here was incorrect and possibly tampered with and ordered a CBI probe into the functioning of the facility.
The initial report, placed before the trial court, had said that the DNA of semen recovered from victim's undergarments did not match the blood sample of convict Khursheed.
However, when the test was again conducted during the proceedings in the high court, there was a positive match with the convict's DNA.
While terming the latest FSL report as the "last nail in the coffin" of the convict, the high court ordered a CBI probe into the lab's functioning and especially the scientist who prepared the first report.
The bench noted that the reports prepared by the same scientist in some other criminal cases were also questionable and ordered that her activities as well as the reports prepared by her be also investigated.
The court said that since it has come across several such cases from time to time, the said incorrect reports "cannot be passed off as mere bona fide and genuine mistakes".
"The possibility of either the samples being compromised, or the reports being manipulated to suit one or the other party. cannot be ruled out. The involvement of outsiders/ touts is highly probable in a case like the present, where the accused hails from a humble background and would not have had the wherewithal of directly approaching the investigating officers or the police officials, or the officers of the FSL for seeking favours," the bench said.
The court said the irregularities which have come to light, particularly in respect of reports prepared by the woman scientist, need to be thoroughly investigated by the CBI and asked the agency to register a preliminary inquiry and to look into the working of the FSL, in the matter of formation of reports in respect of samples received by them, particularly the DNA reports.
"There can be no gainsaying that the matter involves public interest at large. The circumstances, prima facie, could disclose the commission of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Indian Penal Code etc. if thoroughly investigated," the court added.
It also said that reports prepared by the FSL have serious consequences - both for the victim and the accused.
"A false report in favour of the accused would lead to grave miscarriage of justice for the victim and for the society at large, as the rule of law would stand subverted with the acquittal of an offender, who deserves to be brought to justice.
"On the other hand, a false report against the accused can lead to an even more grave miscarriage of justice, as an innocent person may get falsely implicated," the bench said.
On how the trial court dealt with the case, the high court said, in the face of the evidence led by the prosecution, the charge against the accused was established beyond all reasonable doubt.
"The judgment (of trial court) proceeds on palpably wrong conclusions on facts, it is based on erroneous view of the law and if not set aside would lead to grave miscarriage of justice to the victim. The approach of the trial court in dealing with the evidence is patently illegal and the trial court has ignored the medical evidence and misread and mis-appreciated the evidence led by the prosecution," the bench said.
According to the prosecution, the then eight-year-old girl was raped on October 15, 2013 evening by Khursheed in her home while her mother was not there.
When her mother returned, she found the house locked from inside and when she raised an alarm, Khursheed and fled the spot, police had said and added that he was arrested from his house later.
The trial court had acquitted Khursheed on the ground that the testimony of the victim was untrustworthy due to various improvements, contradictions and inconsistencies in the same.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)