Twenty-eight years after he ended up behind bars on death row for killing six people in Pune, Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary is a free man. On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered Chaudhary's release from the Yerwada Central Prison in Pune. Reason: He was a juvenile when the crime was committed but was tried as an adult.
Chaudhary, from Rajasthan, was convicted of murdering six people, including two children and a pregnant woman. The deceased were members of the Rathi family and the incident happened at their second-floor flat in Himanshu Apartment at Shilavihar Colony, Paud Phata, Kothrud, in 1994. The family's domestic help was one of the victims.
The gruesome crime took place when Chaudhary and his two other accomplices, Jitya Nayansingh Gehlot and Raju Rajpurohit, broke into the Rathi household to rob them. However, they ended up killing all the family members to get rid of the evidence.
Raju Rajpurohit later turned approver and was sentenced to life imprisonment while Gehlot and Chaudhary underwent a full trial. Four years later, the trial court convicted and sentenced him to death. The High Court and the Supreme Court too affirmed the sentence, reported Live Law.
A review petition was filed in the apex court which was eventually dismissed. Chaudhary also filed a mercy petition before the then President Pranab Mukherjee in 2015, which was rejected.
Soon after, Chaudhary filed an application under 9(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, claiming that he was a juvenile when the incident happened.
Four years later, the Supreme Court directed a Principal District and Sessions Judge, Pune (inquiring judge) to decide the juvenility of the applicant, the Live Law report added.
The inquiring judge filed a report which confirmed that Chaudhary was just 12 when he committed the crimes. Though the chargesheet said he was 20 years old when he took part in the crime, the certificate of date of birth proved that Chaudhary was born on 01.02.1982. Hence, he was just 12 and 6 months old when the crime was committed.
However, the name on the certificate was 'Niranaram' and there were discrepancies in his age in multiple documents.
Seven documents were furnished. Investigating officers visited his village in Rajasthan and recorded statements from several people, including his family and village sarpanch. An age determination was also performed at a hospital and the probe revealed that he was just 12 at the time of the offence.
According to the Supreme Court, the state is yet to come up with any compelling contradictory evidence to show that the record of his date of birth in the admission register was false.
Finally, on Monday the bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose, KM Joseph, and Hrishikesh Roy passed the order after concluding that his claim of juvenility was true.
Chaudhary is expected to leave the prison in three to four days after the completion of all the formalities.