PANAJI: Convicting a beach shack worker in the 2008 Scarlett Keeling death case, the Bombay High Court said the lower court's order acquitting him was based on "surmises and conjectures" and was "miscarriage of justice".
A Goa bench of justices R D Dhanuka and Prithviraj Chavan on Friday sentenced Samson D'Souza to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment in the case, overturning his acquittal by the trial court.
Keeling, 15, was found dead with bruises on her body at Anjuna beach in Goa on February 18, 2008.
D'Souza and another local Placido Carvalho were accused of leaving her to die after drugging and sexually abusing her.
The Goa Children's Court acquitted the two men last year.
Acting on an appeal, the high court convicted D'Souza under IPC sections 328 (for administrating drugs), 354 (outraging woman's modesty), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting murder), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and for child abuse under Section 8(2) of the Goa Children's Act.
Carvalho's acquittal was upheld.
The detailed judgment, which was uploaded on the high court's website on Monday, stated "the order (of lower court) was a result of improper appreciation of evidence and is capricious".
"The conclusions are contrary to the evidence on record. The judgment is based on surmises and conjectures," the court observed.
"The trial court ignored cogent, trustworthy and reliable evidence of the witnesses coupled with medical evidence which corroborate the fact that the victim was under the influence of narcotic drugs and alcohol," the bench said.
It dubbed the acquittal of D'Souza by the trial court as "miscarriage of justice".
"The trial court also ignored the bruises noticed by the medical expert below the knees and other parts of the body. There is indeed a miscarriage of justice," the high court said in its order.
It said the trial court took an impossible view in the given set of facts and circumstances.
"We have, therefore, reviewed the entire evidence on record and are constrained to take a different view," the order read.
The trial court's decision will have to be reversed to meet the ends of justice, the high court observed.
"We are conscious of the fact that there is presumption of innocence in favour of the respondent. However, there is absolutely no scope of any doubt creeping in, in the light of the discussion made herein above," the bench said.
"All the circumstances from which the conclusion of the guilt of D'Souza is drawn, have been fully established," the order stated.