The court verdict given by the Dharwad Bench of the High Court of Karnataka, headed by Justice Anand Byrareddy and Justice S. Sujatha, on Tuesday acquitted all the five accused for want of strong evidence to prove their involvement in the rape and murder of Sheetal R. Chougule of Belagavi.
This verdict has shocked and disappointed not only the parents and maternal relatives of Sheetal but also the people of Belagavi who had stood in support of the victim of rape and murder and had even closed the entire city for day.
Witnesses who deposed for the petitioner have become apprehensive now and want to know who would protect them from the accused as they have been set free.
But Sheetal’s family will go to the Supreme Court for justice, which decision, Vinayak Desai, brother of Sheetal, said had been taken before the verdict came.
According to sources the court acquitted all the five accused as the prosecution could not establish the case beyond reasonable doubt. Earlier, the V Additional Sessions Court of Belgaum (now Belagavi) had held Ravindranath Ramchandra Chougule, husband of Sheetal, and four others guilty of conspiracy and murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced them to life imprisonment, while acquitting another accused Parashuram Kamble, on June 11, 2012.
According to prosecution, Ravindra Chougule had married Sheetal Chougule in 1998. He also had illicit relations with a woman who refused to marry Chougule until Sheetal was alive and both had conspired to get rid of her. Chougule had contacted Ranjit Shintre and gave him contract of Rs 4 lakh to kill Sheetal. On August 11, 2007 Chougule took Sheetal to Rajdeep Bungalow at Laxmi Nagar, Hindalga, wherein Ranjit Shintre, Vijayanand alias Dinku Shinde bungalow owner Rajesh Mense, Parashuram Kamble and Praveen Shintre were present. Praveen Shintre was later killed in an encounter.
Senior advocate Ravi B. Naik contested for Ravindranath while Bahubali A. Danawade represented the petitioner.
Now the citizens are asking a simple question if all those Five are acquitted then Who killed Sheetal Chougule?