Shirdi rape case: HC tears apart autopsy report; awards death to convict
Mumbai: In a rare step, the high court, while hearing the case for compulsory death sentence given to Sunil Bharat Jadhav alias Pappu Salve by the Nashik sessions court, confirmed his death sentence.
Salve has been convicted and sentenced to death for kidnapping and murdering a nine-year-old girl and dumping the body in a well. The HC in April 2010 held that the police conducted a sloppy probe and were slack in gathering evidence. Even a DNA test was not done to confirm the identity of the body. The lower court went by her grandfather's statement that he identified the body as hers though it had decomposed.
The HC tore apart the post-mortem report as being "inconclusive'' and not conclusively stating whether it was a girl's body and if the death was homicidal. It said the prosecution had failed to prove its case "beyond reasonable doubt'' and faulted the trial court for relying on statements by Salve's wife, a co-accused, to nail him without following the legal conditions to treat her as an approver.
The HC also picked other flaws. It observed that the FIR said the girl was dressed in a blue Punjabi dress, but the police initially kept saying they had found a male body and it was in a T-shirt and blue trousers. The police said there were metal bangles as proof that the body was the girl's but the HC questioned how metal bangles could float on water.
The rapist and muderer has emerged as a serial offender. Moreover, he could have been put away or kept behind bars for life if the Bombay high court hadn't found shocking loopholes in a trial court judgment in a 2003 kidnap-and-murder judgment.
(With ToI inputs)