A bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Mukta Gupta held that the "prosecution has failed to prove the chain of circumstances against Shahnaz by ruling out every hypothesis of her innocence" and ordered her release, saying she deserves the "benefit of doubt".
"Merely on the basis of the post-mortem report and the recovery of wicket which is an ordinarily available object with no blood stains found on it, we are of the opinion that the prosecution has failed to prove the chain of circumstances against Shahnaz, ruling out every hypothesis of her innocence. "Consequently, she is granted the benefit of doubt and the judgement of conviction dated November 25, 2013 and the order on sentence on November 30, 2013 are set aside. The appellant who is in custody be released....," it said.
The High Court gave its decision on an appeal filed by the woman against the trial court decision awarding her life term for killing and dumping her live-in partner's body in a gutter near their rented accommodation in north-west Delhi. The prosecution had alleged before the trial court that the house was taken on rent by victim Rakesh Gupta and the accused was to be residing in the said house as his wife.
It had said that the woman had failed to explain where the victim, who was working in a boutique with her, had gone as no one had seen him alive since October 5, 2010. In her appeal before the High Court, she had claimed that there is no direct evidence and even the circumstantial evidence so sought to be proved by the prosecution does not form a complete chain so as to rule out the hypothesis of her innocence.