Four men accused of kidnapping and gang-raping a girl 11 years ago in a moving car here were acquitted by a Delhi court on the grounds that she and other key witnesses "did not bother" to take part in the proceedings and remained untraceable.
Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna let off the four Delhi residents, all in their 30s, observing that the alleged victim had also turned hostile and failed to identify another accused who had faced trial in the case earlier and was acquitted.
The court said the accused "have been suffering trial from the day the charge sheet was filed" and it saw "no reason" for the case to be allowed to further linger on.
"The attempts to serve the prosecutrix (the girl) as well as other witnesses have turned futile and there is no reason as to why the case be allowed linger on for indefinite period as the (four) accused persons have been suffering trial from the day the charge sheet was filed.
"Various efforts of the prosecution to produce the girl and other material witnesses have failed and hence considering that earlier also the witnesses had turned hostile against the accused (fifth person) in the trial already held, I see no reason for the case to be allowed to further linger on, when the victim and the witnesses themselves are also not serious or following the case and had even not bothered/cared to find out its details...," the court said.
The girl had lodged a complaint with the Lajpat Nagar police station in New Delhi on October 7, 2002, alleging that while she and her friends went to India Gate to have ice cream at night, five men started making obscene gestures. She had said that when her friends objected, they started a quarrel.
However, the girl and her friends left for their home in their car, but the five assailants followed them. They later blocked their route and thrashed the girl's friend and kidnapped her, the police had said.
The men took the girl in their car, gangraped her and later dumped her on the roadside, it added.
The court said, "The finger print report, even if positive, has no relevance in the absence of the depositions of the victim/ witnesses as cannot prove the circumstances under which such finger prints were found on the object, so cannot be used against the accused persons."
Initially, the police were able to arrest only one of the five accused. He was acquitted by the trial court which had relied on the testimony of the victim, who had said that "he is not the same person who had raped her".
The remaining four were apprehended and charge sheeted in February 2010, but since then the girl and her friends, who were involved in a musical Group, remained untraceable.
The judge noted that the investigating officer had tried her level best to serve summons to the girl and her friends, who were the prosecution witnesses, but they had left their addresses and are untraceable.
"...I had noted that on numerous occasions the summons has been sent to the prosecutrix,...through ordinarily process through SHO of Police Station concerned and through DCP (Legal cell) but summons were returned with the reports that they are not traceable," the judge said.