A fast-track court in Delhi recently acquitted two men of rape and murder of a minor girl while noting that the investigating agency had converted a case of suicide into a culpable homicide amounting to murder and framed the accused [State v. Shubham & Ors]..Additional Sessions Judge Navjeet Budhiraja disapproved the actions and misconduct of the investigating agency in strong words."I would be failing in my duty if I chose to shut my eyes as regards the gross misconduct on the part of the investigating agency which has acted maliciously by converting the case of suicide into that of culpable homicide amounting to murder and falsely implicating the accused persons,” the Court observed..The Court noted there was ample material on record in the form of “delayed registration of first information report (FIR), tainted testimony of the eye witnesses, the medical report and the FSL report being contrary to the version of the eye witnesses.”The investigating agency’s “involvement in setting up the false case against the accused persons in connivance with the family members” of the victim, the Court further noted..The Court, therefore, ordered a departmental inquiry against “erring police officials” and directed a copy of the judgment to be handed over to the Deputy Commissioner of Police concerned. Additionally, an inquiry was ordered against the victim’s mother and the forensic doctor for malicious prosecution and false deposition..The incident dates back to 2016, when the two men allegedly “allured” the 17-year-old victim, made her consume alcohol, sexually assaulted and fatally shot her. The prosecution relied on forensic reports, ballistics and witness statements to substantiate its claims.On December 20, 2016, the police received information about a girl, suffering from a bullet wound, being found dead on arrival. The vehicle she was brought in, a black Mercedes Benz, was inspected and sent to the police station.The two men were arrested on the basis of the statement of the victim’s mother. The prosecution examined 41 witnesses during the trial to buttress its arguments on conviction of the two men..Defence counsel Advocate RS Malik contended there was a delay of 11-12 hours in the lodging of the FIR. The counsel also challenged the mother’s explanation of her having fallen unconscious on learning that her daughter had died. It was argued that there was nothing brought on record to demonstrate that the mother was not in a position to give her statement to the police.The victim was stated to have killed herself while fighting with one of the accused persons, as traces of gunpowder were found on her hands. The counsel also argued that the alleged murder weapon was found inside the car’s dashboard..On the prosecution’s murder theory and the events leading to it, the Court said it was “flummoxing” that the accused would fire the shot and bother to keep the weapon back inside the dashboard.“If a person shoots somebody, either he would take the weapon with him for its disposal in the manner that the same would not get recovered by anyone or he would leave the weapon it at the place of occurrence only to decamp immediately…” the Court opined..On the charge of sexual assault, it was observed that the forensics were marred with “gross infirmities”, particularly when it came to matching of the traces of human DNA, purportedly found on the victim’s body, with that of the accused..On the nature of the wound on the victim’s body, the Court explained its opinion on the basis of the textbook of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology by Modi. It was observed that the blackening and tattooing of the wound was a result of a close range gunshot.“This can happen if the person shot, is carrying the weapon himself, who then fires the shot towards any part of the body or by some other person who by bringing the weapon so close to the body of the person to be shot, pulls the trigger,” it noted..The recovery of the bullet casing on the backseat of the car also indicated that the shot was fired inside the car by the victim, who was sitting there. Contrary to the witness statements, according to which the accused person who had fired the shot was alleged to have stepped out of the car before shooting the victim, the Court observed that the bullet casing would have, in that case, been found outside the car..Similarly, on allegations of enticement and making a juvenile consume alcohol, which is punishable under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, the prosecution was stated to have not given sufficient evidence to the substantiate the charges.While acquitting the two men of the more serious charges, the Court convicted one of them for having misused his licence weapon by negligently keeping it in the car, owing to which the victim access to it.“It is concluded that the prosecution has not been successful in building the case of murder under Section 302/34 against the accused persons. With regard to the other charges also, Section 4 of the POCSO Act, Section 363/34 of the IPC and Section 77 of JJ Act read with 34 IPC also the prosecution has dropped the ball,” the verdict held.The Court, however, convicted one of the accused persons under Section 30 of the Arms Act for violating the arms licence rule.