In February 2012, a 19-year-old girl was gang-raped, brutalised, and left to die in a mustard field in Haryana. Her mutilated body was found days later – the crime shocked the conscience of people.
On November 7, the Supreme Court released all three accused on death row, saying there were many glaring lapses, which occurred during the course of the trial. Now, the Delhi Home Affairs Department has moved the Supreme Court seeking review of the judgment, saying judgment suffers from apparent errors on the face of the record as it completely overlooks the medical, scientific, and circumstantial evidence.
The review plea – by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati – said in the instant case, the crime and the manner in which the crime was committed reflects the nature of sexual predators and sexual psychopaths. It added that the accused continued their bestiality even upon the lifeless body of the victim, resulting in grave post mortem injuries, especially on the sexual organs of the deceased.
“In the instant case, the crime has been proved beyond the shadow of all reasonable doubts by not only conclusive and utterly convincing scientific evidence in the form of DNA and medical analysis but with other corroborative evidences as well including but not limited to recoveries, mobile phone records, location records etc..,” said the review petition.
Former Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit, speaking with the media after leaving office, had said only evidence matters before the court and nothing else, and added, “we did not find material good enough to sustain the conviction”.
Justice Lalit — who was part of the bench which passed the judgment — said that the circumstantial evidence on the basis of which the accused were convicted was not good enough and the circumstances did not form a complete chain and did not eliminate every hypothesis to prove their guilt.
In the review, the Delhi government said the observation of the apex court in respect of tampering of DNA samples is misconceived and incorrect. It emphasised that the chain of custody of the vaginal swab, hair found on the body of prosecutrix, black strand of hair found from the car seat of the accused, jack found in the car of the accused, car seat covers where blood was found, is complete and unassailable.
It added that a report of the DNA profiling of the hair strand which was collected from the body of the prosecutrix was found to be male in origin and matched with DNA profile of accused Ravi Kumar (source of his DNA sample is taken from his blood). “It is submitted that in the instant case, since the chain of custody has been established and not found to be tampered with, the question of the DNA evidence and the CFSL report being unreliable does not and cannot arise,” said the review petition.
The plea contended that the apex court had erroneously held that the high court and trial court failed to examine the underlying basis of the findings of the DNA report.
On November 7, Justice Bela M. Trivedi, who authored the judgment on behalf of the bench, had said the evidence with regard to the arrest of the appellants-accused, their identification, discoveries and recoveries of the incriminating articles, identity of the Indica car, the seizures and sealing of the articles and collection of samples, the medical and scientific evidence, the report of DNA profiling, the evidence with regard to the CDRs etc., were not proved by the prosecution by leading, cogent, clinching and clear evidence much less unerringly pointing the guilt of the accused.
The government said in the instant case, since the chain of custody has been established and not found to be tampered with, the question of the DNA evidence and the CFSL report being unreliable does not and cannot arise.
It said: “The social impact of such heinous and brutal crimes has an exponential impact on social order; thus, one cannot lose sight of public interest, and the fact that it requires exemplary treatment. Any liberal attitude would result in being counter-productive against social interest which needs to be strengthened by a string of deterrence inbuilt in the judicial system.”
The review petition said the high court and the trial court conclusively appreciated and held that the DNA profiling conducted on the evidence and samples collected such as blood found on jack, long black strand of hair found from the seat of the car, semen from seat covers of the car, vaginal swab of the deceased and hair strand found on the body of the prosecutrix, were consistent to each other.
The government said the offence falls under the rarest of the rare category and the verdict acquitting the accused should be set aside.
The father of the victim and others have also moved the apex court seeking review of the November judgment which acquitted all three suspects in the case.