The Delhi High Court has granted Rs 50,000 each in compensation, to be covered by the State, to two individuals who were acquitted in a murder case. The court stated that this was a prime example of a severely flawed investigation, which led these individuals to endure the ordeal of a prolonged trial and wrongful incarceration for a crime they did not commit.
A panel headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, responsible for addressing the State’s appeal against the acquittal, advised law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations meticulously. The court emphasized that trial courts should meticulously evaluate evidence to prevent the unjust suffering of innocent individuals through wrongful imprisonment.
The case revolved around the demise of a two-year-old girl in 2014. The child’s father and paternal grandmother faced trial as suspects. The child had been brought to GTB Hospital by the grandmother, where she was declared deceased after a fall at home. An FIR was filed following a complaint by the mother, who had previously handed over custody of the child to her estranged husband.
Although the trial court declined to convict the accused of murder, it found them guilty under Section 23 (Punishment for cruelty to a child) of the Juvenile Justice Act. They were sentenced to six months of rigorous imprisonment each, along with a fine of Rs 10,000 each.
The bench, including Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, commended the trial court’s “wisdom” in clearing the accused of murder charges under Section 302 IPC. The bench asserted that the unjust investigation forced the accused to endure a lengthy trial and serve a sentence for a crime they were innocent of.
The court observed that the primary responsibility for a child’s care rests with the parents, not the grandparents. The assumption that the deceased child was deliberately neglected was deemed unfounded, leading to the rejection of their conviction under the Juvenile Justice Act.
In a recent ruling, the court expressed, “This court acknowledges that there is no comfort for the suffering endured by the accused respondents. However, justice is served by compensating the respondents at the expense of the prosecution. We direct the State appellant to provide each accused with compensation of Rs. 50,000 within four weeks.”
Furthermore, the court warned the prosecution department against filing appeals casually, especially when there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the trial court acted in disarray. Such appeals, the court highlighted, result in unnecessary expenses from the public coffers, wastage of valuable court time, and the unnecessary expenditure of energy and time by the prosecution that could be put to better use.
(With PTI Inputs)