Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has approved the filing of a petition in the Supreme Court challenging its decision to acquit three convicts in the 2012 Chhawla rape-and-murder case who were awarded the death sentence, official said on Monday. Saxena has also approved engaging Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to represent the Delhi government in the case, a senior official said.
"The LG has approved the filing of a review petition in the Supreme Court against its decision of acquitting the three accused," the official said.
Death sentence to Chhawla gangrape-murder accused
The three were awarded the death sentence by a trial court which was upheld by the Delhi High Court for the gruesome rape and murder of a 19-year old woman on February 9, 2012 at Chhawla, Dwarka, Delhi. The case was described as a "rarest of rare" case by the court.
The accused had appealed against the sentence at the Supreme Court that in its judgment on November 7 , 2022 set aside the trial court and High Court orders.
Acquittal: 'Glaring lapses during trial'
Earlier this month, a bench comprising Chief Justice of India U U Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi observed that the three men --- Rahul, Ravi Kumar and Vinod alias Chhotu --- stated that the prosecution, whose case rested on circumstantial evidence, failed to prove it. Acquitting the men, the Bench observed that they must be set free if not required in any other case.
As per the prosecution case, the trio kidnapped the girl in a red Tata Indica car near Hanuman Chowk, Qutub Vihar, Chhawla on February 9, 2012, before raping and killing her. The body was found three days later.
The Supreme Court verdict noted that "The prosecution has to bring home the charges levelled against them beyond a reasonable doubt, which the prosecution has failed to do in the instant case. Resultantly, the court is left with no alternative but to acquit the accused, though involved in a very heinous crime."
The court further observed that the accused were deprived of their right of having a fair trial apart from the fact that the truth also could not be elicited by the trial court. Against this backdrop, the apex court added that it might be true that if the accused involved in the heinous crime go unpunished or are acquitted, a kind of agony and frustration may be caused to society in general and to the family of the victim in particular, however, the law does not permit the courts to punish the accused on the basis of moral conviction or on suspicion alone.
The SC added that it “is constrained to make these observations as the court has noticed many glaring lapses having occurred during the course of the trial”.
Victim's parents vowed to challenge the acquittal
On Sunday, ANI reported Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami's meeting with the girl's parents, wherein the state government promised to chart out a strategy to seek justice for the victim.
Uttarakhand CM PS Dhami met the parents of the victim of the 2012 Chhawla gangrape & murder case in Delhi and said that the state government is doing everything possible to get justice for the daughter of the state: CMO pic.twitter.com/EJaTIE6gSz— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) November 20, 2022
Earlier on November 9, a day after the verdict, the victim's father expressed disappointment over the acquittal and said, "We will appeal against the Supreme Court's verdict, which has allowed the acquittal of the three accused. We are in the process of finalising it and will file an appeal soon to reconsider the verdict."
The family wants death penalty for all the accused. "We want death penalty for all three accused...All the culprits should be hanged...Only then will my daughter get justice," he told PTI.
"Even after 11 years, this is the verdict. We have lost it...We lost the battle...I was living with this hope...I have lost my will to live. I thought my daughter would get justice," the victim's mother said, breaking into tears outside the Supreme Court premises.
(With inputs from PTI)