The Kerala High Court on Thursday, January 4, has admitted an appeal filed by the state government challenging the acquittal of Arjun from the case concerning the rape and murder of a minor in Vandiperiyar. The 23 year old youth was the lone accused in the case of sexual assault and murder of a six-year-old, and was acquitted by a special fast-track POCSO court in Kattapana on December 14. The court found him not guilty after finding the prosecution’s case weak, and also pulled up the investigating officer for serious lapses in the investigation, such as failing to collect fingerprints, leaving crucial evidence uncollected for days, and leaving it open to tampering.
A division bench of justices PB Suresh Kumar and Johnson John admitted the plea and issued a notice to Arjun. The state government, in its appeal, contended that the lower court “failed to appreciate the evidence produced by the prosecution in its correct perspective.” The government also contended that the delays in the probe were because of the formalities to make changes to the First Information Report (FIR) and not due to lapses.
The deceased child lived with her parents, who are both labourers in Idukki district. She was alone at her house on the fateful day when her body was discovered by her brother, who came home around 3 pm. Her body was sent to the Idukki Medical College for an autopsy, where it was found that the child was sexually assaulted and strangled. Arjun was 21 years old then, a local Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) leader, and he was arrested by the police on July 6, 2021.
The POCSO court, in its judgement, observed that the prosecution entirely relied on circumstantial evidence to prove the guilt of the accused in the case, and that the prosecution failed to establish all the circumstances consistent with the guilt of the accused and inconsistent with his innocence.