A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and SP Garg upheld the acquittal, dismissing the police appeal against the trial court's verdict.
"If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court. "...We are of the view that the findings recorded by the learned trial court acquitting the accused are not perverse and require no interference," said Justice Garg, writing the verdict for the bench.
The court, however, modified the trial court's order for registration of an FIR against four policemen for faking the alleged encounter and other evidence to implicate the accused.
"It is improbable that the investigating team consisting of more than 15 police officers of different ranks from different police stations would conspire against accused residing at different places to falsely implicate them...The petitioners cannot be punished before they are found guilty...The Commissioner of Police is directed to inquire into the role and conduct of the petitioners in the investigation of the case and take appropriate action in accordance with Statute/Rules...," it said.
The police had said it had nabbed four of the seven accused after a shootout on night intervening Jul 1 and 2, 2005 near Delhi-Gurgaon border and had recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition from them. The three were arrested later, it had added.
Trashing the police version, the lower court had said Trashing the police version, the lower court had said that the investigating officer (IO) did not explain as to why no "independent public witnesses" were not associated during the arrest of accused after the encounter.
The IO did not intimate to his superior officers about the tip-off on alleged movement of accused, it had said, adding that the prosecution also failed to produce "original daily diary entries".
Out of 15 members of the raiding party, the prosecution examined only nine witnesses and failed to explain why other members of the raiding party were withheld, it said.
The investigating officer failed to explain as to why Tata Indica car allegedly seized at the spot was not searched immediately to recover the arms and ammunition lying therein, it said.