Gujarat High Court suspends life sentence of Air Force personnel in 28-year-old custodial death case


In a recent development, the Gujarat High Court has suspended the life sentence of three Air Force personnel in a custodial death case from 1995. The court granted bail and suspended the sentence till the appeal is pending. The accused, retired Squadron Leader Anoop Sood, retired Sergeant Anil K N, and serving Sergeant Mahender Singh Sheravat, were convicted by a CBI court in 2020 for killing Girja Rawat, who worked as a cook at Air Force-I, Jamnagar.

The case dates back to November 13, 1995, when Rawat was taken into custody by Air Force police officials, including Sood, on suspicion of stealing liquor from the Air Force canteen. It was alleged that the accused tortured Rawat to make him confess about the theft. In the evening, his wife visited the Guard Room and requested the officials to release her husband, but he was allegedly tortured, which led to his death the next day.

In 2012, the Gujarat High Court handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), as pleaded by Rawat’s wife. After a thorough investigation, the CBI had filed a chargesheet in July 2013 against the accused. The special CBI court convicted the trio and sentenced them to life imprisonment in May last year.

However, the high court bench in its order noted that there was no evidence to show the presence of the accused at the Main Guard Room and no witness who deposed that they had seen the accused near the Main Guard Room trying to exhort confession from Girija Rawat. The court granted relief, stating that the findings of the CBI court were erroneous and lacked evidence.

The accused had approached the high court for suspension of the sentence till the pendency of their appeal on the ground that the conviction was based on assumptions and presumptions without any direct, indirect, or circumstantial evidence. The court granted them bail on the condition that they would not leave the country and would remain present during the hearing of their appeal against the conviction.

The case highlights the importance of a fair trial and the need for evidence-based convictions. The judiciary plays a vital role in ensuring that justice is served, and the rule of law is upheld. The Gujarat High Court’s decision to suspend the sentence and grant bail to the accused is a step towards upholding the principles of justice and fairness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here