The Kerala High Court on Wednesday sought an explanation from the state government over the acquittal of three accused in the alleged sexual assault and murder of two minor sisters at Palakkad district in 2017, ANI reported.

The older girl, who was 13 years old, was found hanging at her home at Walayar on January 13, 2017. On March 4 that year, her 9-year-old sister was found dead in the same manner. Autopsy reports revealed that the sisters had been sexually assaulted.

A Protection of Children from Sexual Offences court acquitted V Madhu, 27, M Madhu, 27, and Shibu, 43, for lack of evidence on October 25. The court had acquitted another accused, Pradeep Kumar, earlier for the same reason. A fifth accused is a 17-year-old boy. The juvenile court will consider his case on November 15.

The mother of the girls on Tuesday approached the Kerala High Court and sought to punish the accused “for the maximum term of the offence committed by them or to direct a de novo trial and also a further direction for appointment of a new prosecutor, thus rendering justice”.

The court held that the verdict of the POCSO Court because of absence of evidence was not correct. It issued a notice to the accused and the state government in the case.

The mother, in her appeal, alleged that the investigating agency had succumbed to political pressure and obeyed its political masters to pave the escape route for the accused in the case.

Opposition parties in Kerala have criticised the state government since the acquittals and also claimed that the accused were shielded by the ruling Left Democratic Front. On Tuesday, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes said it will seek clarifications from the doctors who had performed the postmortem examinations on the sisters.

The commission had earlier said it will summon Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose and Director General of Police Lokanath Behera in the case. The commission’s Vice Chairperson L Murugan, after visiting the home of the deceased sisters in Walayar, had alleged that the police were not showing any interest in the case. He said that while the police had summoned a witness, they did not record his statement.

The Kerala Women’s Commission had also sought action against the officials for their “lapses’’ in the case.