A special court in Pathankot, which acquitted Vishal Jangotra in the Kathua gangrape and murder case for lack of evidence, underlined lapses in the investigation, PTI reported on Tuesday. Jangotra is the son of convict Sanji Ram. He was given the “benefit of doubt”.

The court said the prosecution failed to verify Jangotra’s alibi during the investigation, and blamed the Jammu Crime Branch for withholding the best evidence against him.

The court on Monday convicted six of the seven accused in the gangrape and murder of the eight-year-old girl. While three of the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment, three others were given a five-year jail term each for destroying evidence.

“The prosecution has failed to discharge its burden by leading convincing evidence to the effect that the detailed evidence led by Vishal Jangotra on his plea of alibi is wrong or forged or fabricated. Jangotra’s plea of alibi has to be given due weightage. There is a big lacuna in the case of prosecution against Jangotra,” the court said in its judgment, reported PTI.

The prosecution said Jangotra was present in Kathua in January 2018 when the crime was committed. It claimed some other student appeared on behalf of him for an examination in Uttar Pradesh. It also submitted the answer sheets. But the handwriting expert said it was not possible to ascertain that the answers were written by someone else.

“It cannot be held that papers during examination of Vishal were not attempted by him and the arguments of the prosecution that these were attempted by somebody else cannot be believed,” the court said.

The court pointed out some elementary mistakes in the investigation, reported Greater Kashmir. Sub Inspector Urfan Wani categorically deposed that before arresting Jangotra from Uttar Pradesh’s Meeranpur, they had not enquired from his college or his examination centre whether he had regularly appeared for his examination that started from January 9, 2018, the court said. “He [Wani] further admitted the fact that till 17.03.2018, there was no report of any handwriting expert in this regard and he did not record the statement of any official or principal, teacher, examiner or student regarding absence of the accused,” the court said.

The special public prosecutor said the prosecution will appeal in Punjab and Haryana High Court against the acquittal of Jangotra, reported The New Indian Express.