Thane, Jan 28 (PTI) A 33-year-old man from Palghar in Maharashtra, who was arrested in 2016 on the charge of raping and killing a woman and remained in jail since then, has been acquitted of the charges by a local court that gave a benefit of doubt to him for want of sufficient evidence.
The court, however, held him guilty for giving false information to the police and sentenced him to six months of simple imprisonment. But since he has spent the last seven years in jail, he is not required to remain imprisoned any further.
The accused, a tribal man from Wada taluka in Palghar, was acquitted by Additional Sessions Court Judge A N Sirsikar in Thane on January 16. The copy of the order was made available on Friday.
The man, Sagar Waman Malavkar, is a labourer from Varai Khurd village.
Appearing for the prosecution, additional public prosecutor Rakhi Pande told the court that the accused and the victim woman, who was 18 years old then, were in a relationship. The woman had been asking him to marry her, although he was already married and had children.
On March 26, 2016, he took the woman to an isolated place and raped her, the prosecution said, adding that after the incident, the victim went into a nearby forest area, and was later found dead. The next day, Malavkar told the personnel of Wada police station that the victim had committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree.
The police sent the woman's body for post-mortem and inspected the crime site. They raised doubts over the man's version that the victim had ended her own life, as they found that the body was brought down, but the cloth used for hanging was still tied to the tree, the prosecution said.
The autopsy report later revealed the woman died of strangulation, following which the accused was arrested and booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 376 (rape), 302 (murder) and 177 (furnishing false information). A local court had remanded him in jail.
In the order passed earlier this month, the sessions court said, "On perusal of information given by the accused to the police it appears that accused has given information that the woman committed suicide by hanging and he removed the dead body and put it on the ground in order to confirm as to whether she was alive." "Considering the post-mortem report evidence, the prosecution witness and other facts of the case, it has been proven that the death was homicidal. It is therefore, proven that the accused gave false information to the public servant, that is police officer, and as such the offence under IPC section 177 has been proven against him," the court said.
The prosecution has proven that the death of the woman was homicidal. However, it has failed to prove that the accused raped and murdered her. The prosecution has proven that the accused furnished false information to the police officer about her death, it said.
The prescribed punishment for the offence under section 177 of the IPC is simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine or with both, the court said, adding, "Considering the facts of the case, if the accused is directed to suffer simple imprisonment for six months the same would be just and proper." The accused has undergone detention from April 27, 2016 till date. Hence, he is entitled for set-off for the period of above detention, the court added. PTI COR NP NP