SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has acquitted a teacher from Shopian who was previously convicted of raping an 8th-class student, observing that it would be dangerous to hold the accused guilty on grounds of weak and shaky evidence.
A court in south Kashmir’s Shopian district had previously, awarded a 20-year jail sentence to Mohammad Maqbool Ganie, a resident of D.K Pora Shopian, and imposed a Rs 10 lakh fine on him, a week after convicting the accused for rape of a minor girl seven years ago.
However, High Court, in its ruling, deemed it dangerous to hold the accused guilty solely based on weak and shaky evidence. After a thorough examination of the case, the court concluded that the evidence presented against the teacher did not convincingly establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case had initially gained immense attention as it involved a heinous crime committed against a young student. However, the High Court’s decision highlights the importance of ensuring a fair and robust judicial process, where the burden of proof lies heavily on the prosecution.
The acquitted teacher, who had maintained his innocence throughout the trial, expressed relief and gratitude following the court’s judgment. He thanked his legal team for tirelessly advocating for his innocence and maintaining faith in the justice system.
“After proper assessment, evaluation and estimation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, we find that the evidence appears to be weak, fragile, lacking in credibility, does not prove connecting link between the accused and commission of offences,” reads a court order.
“It would be highly dangerous and hazardous to hold the appellant/convict guilty of offences alleged against him on the basis of weak, shaky and unacceptable evidence,” court said.
It added, “The whole case of the prosecution, therefore, becomes doubtful. For the foregoing reasons and discussion, we are of the considered view, that prosecution has miserably failed to prove the guilt of the appellant/convict beyond reasonable doubt for commission of offences Under Sections 376(2)(f)/342/506 RPC.”
“Appellant/convict Mohd Maqbool Ganai S/O Mohd Anwar Ganai R/O D.K. Pora Harmain Shopian District Shopian, who is lying in Judicial custody in District Jail Pulwama (Kashmir), is therefore, acquitted of the charges leveled against him for the commission of offenses Under Sections 376(2)(f)342/506 RPC shall forthwith be released from the custody if not required in any other case,” court observed.
He shall stand discharged from his bail and personal bonds. Criminal conviction appeal is disposed of, and after due compilation under rules, shall be consigned to record.
Pertinently, in 2015, the convicted teacher had asked the student to come for tuition to his home where he allegedly assaulted her.
Subsequently, following a complaint, Police registered a case FIR No 179/2015 under Sections 376/F (rape of minor below 12 years), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) at Police Station Shopian and after investigation filed the chargesheet against the teacher who was posted at Government High School D K Pora, Shopian.
In October 2022 Principal Sessions Judge Shopian had held Mohammad Maqbool Ganai guilty for commission of offences in FIR (No. 179/2015) of Police Station Shopian under Sections 376(2)(f)/342/506 RPC and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment of 20 years and fine of Rs Ten Lac under Section 376(f) RPC, and one year and 2 years imprisonments under Sections 342 & 506 RPC respectively.(KS)