On Tuesday, the Orissa High Court set aside life sentence of a UP School teacher as well as the rape and murder charges of a minor girl student he had been convicted of in 2010. A division bench of Justice CR Dash and Justice BR Sarangi ruled that there was nothing on record to find the petitioner guilty.
On perusal of the records the Court found that the case was based on circumstantial evidence leaning heavily on the evidence of a sole school student presented by the prosecution on the last seen together theory.
A 12-year-old girl student was found dead in the girl’s urinal of Government Project UP School at a village in Ganjam district on September 30, 2008. Her father lodged FIR at Polsara police station. Santha Charan Pattnaik, a teacher of the school, had been arrested after he allegedly confessed before police. On completion of investigation a chargesheet was filed against him for rape and murder.
The court of Sessions Judge Ganjam-Gajapati at Berhampur had held Santha guilty of rape and murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment on August 2, 2010. Santha pleaded denial of the charges and filed a criminal appeal in the High Court the same year. The Bench examined all the evidence, including medical and post-mortem reports, and was of the view that there is nothing on record to find the appellant guilty.