In jail since 2003 for killing wife, lifer cleared by HC | India News – Times of India

CUTTACK: Seventeen years after a trial court sentenced him to life for killing his wife, an Odisha daily-wager who couldn’t afford a bail plea will walk free after 19 years in jail with the HC clearing him on Thursday of the charges.
The HC found that there was no eyewitness to the crime and held that the Keonjhar additional sessions judge’s court had not considered “vital aspects that surfaced in the evidence” and based its “finding purely on circumstantial evidence” when it pronounced Santosh Kumar Naik, 48, guilty in 2005 for wife Phula‘s murder two years earlier.
Santosh was arrested after an FIR alleging that he had hacked Phula to death with an axe on September 9, 2003. The Keonjhar court had sentenced him on February 19, 2005.
Santosh was so poor that the Keonjhar jail authorities referred his case for legal aid after seven years, and a criminal appeal was filed on his behalf in the HC in 2012. The case was taken up in April that year but it was only in November this year that the HC concluded hearings.

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