Special Court: Officers bungled Sowjanya rape-and-murder probe 

The court termed it a fit case to be placed before the acquittal committee to initiate action against the erring officials. 
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

BENGALURU:   The Special Court for Children, which acquitted accused Santhosh Rao in connection with the rape and murder of 17-year-old Sowjanya in Dharmasthala, observed that the investigation was not conducted properly in the golden hour, and the doctor, who collected the vaginal swab of the victim, virtually demolished the entire case of the prosecution. 

The court termed it a fit case to be placed before the acquittal committee to initiate action against the erring officials. The case was initially registered in October 2012 and was investigated by the Belthangady police. In November 2013, it was handed over to the Special Crime Branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Chennai. 

In the order dated June 16, Judge CB Santhosh noted that there were absolutely no evidence and circumstances to connect the accused to the crime. The prosecution failed to prove that the accused had committed the acts alleged against him beyond all reasonable doubt, the judge added, while directing that an order copy be placed before the District Legal Services Authority for payment of compensation to the victim’s parents. 

The judge said the evidence and opinion of the doctor in the autopsy report unerringly point to the fact that the victim’s death was a homicide and there was penetrative sexual assault. However, the material witnesses categorically deposed that the accused was nowhere connected with the alleged crime and has been falsely implicated, he said.  

Even in the DNA report, there is no positive evidence against the accused. Neither seminal stains nor the hair of the victim were found on the accused’s clothes. Soil found in the articles seized and found in the vaginal swab is similar, but this was not found on the accused’s clothes, he said. 

“Surprisingly, nothing has been recovered from the place of occurrence. If at all the rape has occurred in the said place, what prevented the investigation officer from calling a team of experts to find any clues such as hairs of the accused, footprints, clothes, struggle marks etc... No last-seen theory has been set up by the prosecution and there is no material to hold that the accused single-handedly dragged the victim inside the bush and committed the offence, the judge said.  

The judge also said when there is no clue from the investigation agency about the assailants, the expert report examining the vaginal swab would have been the best piece of evidence to connect the accused with the crime. The Forensic Science Laboratory evidence indicates that the vaginal swab was not properly collected and stored. Every doctor knows that the vaginal swab should be dried and packed but this was not done. The DNA result was inconclusive as the samples developed fungus, the judge said.

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