A court in Gujarat's Navsari has acquitted two persons after finding out that the man, for whose alleged murder they were arrested six years ago, was alive.
The court of additional sessions judge Saranga Vyas in an order issued on March 30 also directed the investigating officer - the then inspector of Navsari (rural) police station - to pay ₹50,000 compensation to each of the two men for his "careless investigation" that caused mental and physical agony to them and also hurt their social reputation.
Accused Madan Pipladi and Suresh Batela were arrested on the basis of an FIR lodged at Navsari rural police station in Gujarat on July 6, 2016 for the alleged murder of Nagulal Gayari.
Mr. Gayari was presumed dead and the body recovered by the police was mistakenly identified as that of his by his family members due to resemblance.
The accused were kept in jail for nearly three months before being released on bail, while the trial against them continued under sections 302 (murder), 201 (destruction of evidence), and 114 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), before the court acquitted them five days back.
Police had arrested the duo after wrongly identifying the body of a murder victim to be that of Mr. Gayari's, who had been missing for some time. Meanwhile, Mr. Gayari's family members took the body to their native place at Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh and performed the last rites.
It was only a few hours after performing the last rites that Mr. Gayari's brother learnt about him being alive and residing with his relative. They promptly informed this to the police.
Despite this, the police went ahead and filed a charge sheet against the duo claiming that they murdered Mr. Gayari, who worked in the same factory as theirs and lived nearby, for allegedly trespassing into the house of one of the accused one night.
Mr. Gayari later confessed to the police of having entered the house of an accused one night looking for food as he was hungry, but escaped after his wife woke up. Fearing consequences for trespassing, Mr. Gayari escaped from Navsari the same night and went to live with his relatives.
In the charge sheet, the police said that the main accused conspired with the other one and a minor to strangulate the victim to death using a nylon rope before throwing it on the side of the road out of animosity against Mr. Gayari for trespassing into his house.
As per the court's order, as many as 19 witnesses and 35 documents were produced before the court as evidence, including documents identifying the victim as Nagulal Gayari.
During the course of the hearing, the public prosecutor insisted that the evidence was enough to prove the crime and sought maximum punishment against them, said the order.
The defence lawyer then informed the court that the man in whose murder the accused were arrested, is still alive, and his identity proof was submitted by his brother and a village panchayat official.
In its order, the court acquitted the duo for being "incorrectly involved" in the murder case, and observed that a "false charge sheet" was filed against them despite the body found by the police having no connection with them.
It said that despite Mr. Gayari and his relatives giving statements and providing proof of the former's identity, the investigating officer never attempted to find out the identity of the body.
The court observed that due to the negligence of the investigating officer, the duo suffered mental, physical torture and loss of finance and social reputation. They cannot be compensated for what they suffered between 2016 and 2022, the court said, while ordering the police inspector Pradipsinh Gohil to pay Rs 50,000 to each one of them.