NEW DELHI: With the Alwar sessions court pointing out serious lapses on the prosecution part in the alleged lynching of Pehlu Khan in 2017 by a mob for transporting cattle, the major challenge for the state government is to look for valid grounds to appeal in the Rajasthan High Court.
The additional district judge gave benefit of doubt to the six accused and acquitted them from the charges of lynching Pehlu Khan.
The problems appear to have started at the investigation stage itself with the failure to seize mobile phones used to record the video.
Moreover, the failure to properly record Pehlu’s dying declaration is also damning and gave advantage to the six accused.
Legal experts say the state is most likely to ask the High Court for re-trial in the case pointing towards glaring lapses on part of the investigating agency. If the state succeeds in this, then re-trial can also be conducted under the HC’s supervision.
The failure to get the videos certified by a forensic laboratory helps the state to make it a crucial ground for appeal.
Also, the people who had recorded videos of the incident should have been made witnesses and testified. This did not happen.
Interestingly, in this case, the basic procedural requirement of getting witnesses to identify the accused was not done. Even the dying declaration itself had not been recorded in a proper format and did not name the six accused on trial. This helped the defence in claiming innocence of accused.
For their appeal to succeed, the state of Rajasthan will have to prove the trial court judge has made some errors in her appreciation of the evidence, and that the relevant evidence, had in fact, been submitted by the prosecution.
Also, there is an urgent need for a system for review of such cases to identify these errors and take action against those responsible for them.
As per experts, the new law in Rajasthan brought in to curb lynching won’t apply to this case even if a re-trial is ordered as the Constitution states that the offence can only be tried once on retrospective law.
The state government can only offer compensation to the victim’s family under the new law.