The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday acquitted former Uttar Pradesh minister D P Yadav in the 1992 murder of his mentor and legislator Mahendra Singh Bhati.
Yadav was sentenced to life imprisonment in the case by a CBI court six years ago.
Acquitting Yadav of all charges, a division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma said the conviction was based only on surmises and conjectures.
“It is devoid of foundational basis which can be established from cogent and convincing evidence. It is, indeed, trite to state that a conviction has to be based on cogent and convincing evidence. Otherwise, the conviction is not a legal one, but a moral one. The rule of law does not permit a moral conviction,” read the judgment. Sandeep Tandon, who represented the Central Bureau of Investigation, said they will challenge the High Court decision in the Supreme Court and get justice for Bhati’s family.
The judgment on the other accused in the case is pending with the High Court.
On September 13, 1992, Bhati was on his way to village Bhangel when seven-eight unknown persons opened fire at his car, killing him and his friend on the spot.
At the time of his murder, Bhati was the Janta Dal MLA from Dadri constituency in Ghaziabad.
Yadav, a former associate, was an MLA from Bulandshahr who later joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) and reportedly spent some time in the BSP too before forming his own party, Rashtriya Parivartan Dal.
The investigation was transferred from the local police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in August1993 on a court’s direction.
In 2015, a CBI court convicted Yadav, sentencing him to life imprisonment. Yadav was lodged in Dehradun jail but is currently out on parole.
Four among the eight accused in the case have died.