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The Bombay High Court recently dismissed an appeal by the state government, which had challenged the acquittal of a man from Ratnagiri district, who was booked for murder of a minor girl in July 1994, due to an alleged family dispute. The Ratnagiri sessions court in January 2001 had acquitted the accused of murder charges, after the police failed to provide sufficient and convincing evidence to prove the claims of another minor, who witnessed to the murder.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice S P Tavade delivered the verdict in state’s appeal against the acquittal of the man from Ratnagiri. On July 13, 1994, around noon, the deceased minor girl, along with her friend had gone to graze the family cattle nearby their village, and the 23-year-old accused was also grazing his cattle close-by. When a bull belonging to the deceased strayed, she went looking for it. As the weather was windy and rainy, and when the minor did not return, her friend went looking for her and saw the accused assaulting her with a scythe. The friend then ran to minor’s house and brought her parents to the spot, who later found their daughter dead in a pool of blood and the accused had fled.