New Delhi: The father of the eight-year-old Kathua gangrape and murder victim has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking a conviction for Vishal Jangotra, the only person acquitted by the trial court hearing the case in Pathankot last month.
He has also sought death penalty for Sanjhi Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, who were sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime. The trial court had convicted these three men for the crime in its 10 June judgment, while also sentencing police officers Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Surender Kumar to five years’ imprisonment for destruction of evidence.
The plea in the high court, filed through advocates R.S. Bains and Utsav Bains, states that the acquittal of Jangotra was “wrongful”, and should be overturned, while the policemen’s sentences should also be increased.
Plea of alibi not established
The judge, Dr Tejwinder Singh, had acquitted Jangotra, son of Sanjhi Ram, accepting his plea of alibi that he was not present at the site of the crime. The verdict, accessed by ThePrint, had stated that the basis of the alibi was footage from a TV news channel.
“The CD and pen drive pertaining to Zee News categorically proves the fact that Vishal Jangotra during the days of occurrence was not present in Kathua rather was present in Meeranpur, Muzaffarnagar, and was appearing for his examinations,” the judgment had stated.
However, the appeal states that the law of alibi can only be accepted if it is proven that it was “impossible” for Jangotra to be at the site of the offence, and that it was not so as there were multiple trains running between Meerut and Kathua regularly.
“There are five trains between Meerut and Kathua and some of the trains start everyday between Meerut and the town of crime. The distance between the two towns are merely 480 km and it takes between 9 to 11 hours. Therefore the plea of alibi setup by Vishal Jangotra through her sister, ATM and other evidence of having participated in examination do not meet the test of impossibility (sic),” reads the plea.
Appeal for death penalty and increasing sentences
The appeal has also prayed the court to take suo motu action and enhance the punishment of the three sentenced to life imprisonment to the death penalty, as the case is a “rarest of rare case”.
While noting that legally, the “enhancement of sentence is not covered yet in appeal”, the appellant has prayed to the court to grant it “in the interests of justice”, which can be done on if the court takes it up on suo motu basis, i.e. on its own.
The father of the child has highlighted how the crime was committed against her, relying on circumstantial evidence which was “definite” and “unerringly point out towards the guilt of the accused (sic)”.
The trial court had let off sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj on the charge of taking lakhs worth of bribes from the accused. Even special police officer (SPO), Surender Kumar was charged only for destruction of evidence. The father’s appeal now argues that “destroying of evidence itself is more grievous offence than committing the offence”.
According to the appeal, the accused policemen “wanted to teach a lesson to a community by killing and raping a young member of the community”, and that the “fact that they accepted bribe while the child was in confinement and alive, which led to inaction and created obstacles in the discovery and recovery of the child itself is a strong circumstance” which proves that they were “partners in crime”.
The plea adds that the compensation granted to the victim’s family was “inadequate” and that the court must look at enhancing the same.
Appeals filed by convicts too
The six men convicted for the crime have also filed an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The counsel for the three policemen have argued that “there was no destruction of evidence”, and that the five-year sentence should be reconsidered.
The plea also states that the accused have already spent more than a year in prison.
The three men sentenced to life imprisonment have also pleaded for acquittal.
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