Pathankot, June 16
The only acquittal in the Kathua rape-and-murder case came as the trial court set aside the statement of three prosecution witnesses who had claimed that Vishal Jangotra, the son of main culprit Sanji Ram, was in the area at the time of the crime.
District and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh relied on the statement of the landlady of Vishal that he was in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh where he was studying in a college.
According to the 432-page judgement delivered on June 10, the prosecution counsel relied on the three eyewitnesses who had claimed to have seen Vishal in Kathua on January 13 and 14 last year and forensic experts' opinion that writing samples of Vishal did not tally.
"The prosecution claims that as per the said report (handwritting), the questioned signatures do not tally with the standard items in general writing habits such as movement, skill and speed.
The differences observed in writing are fundamental in nature," according to the verdict.
Vishal had presented his signature in the attendance sheet of his college to show that he was in Meerut, and not in Jammu and Kashmir as claimed by the prosecution.
The prosecution also submitted evidence of mobile operators to prove the fact that Vishal was very much present in Kathua on days when the crime against the eight-year-old nomadic girl were committed in Kathua.
While analysing the eyewitnesses of the prosecution, the court said it is of the opinion that these witnesses "are under some mistake relating to identity".
Commenting on an eyewitness, who had seen a TV report about absence of Vishal from Kathua and came running to crime branch officials where he claimed to have seen Vishal along with Parvesh, an accused sentenced to life.
The eyewitness, who belongs to a nomadic tribe, identified Vishal and Parvesh in the court but the judge did not rely on his statement saying that he "never moved any complaint before any authority against the news channel" or its staff.
"...As such oral evidence of these witnesses cannot be given preference over the documentary evidence on record having been led by defence of Vishal Jangotra."
Vishal was the only one among the seven accused to be acquitted by the court. —PTI
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