Additional Sessions Judge Talwant Singh, in his detailed judgment, held the prosecution responsible for not being able to establish the complicity of the accused and absolved Mustafa Ansari, Sanjay, Heera Singh, Mohammed Jasim and Mohammed Shahid of the charges.
"In a case of circumstantial evidence, each and every circumstances should be proved independently and the chain of events should able complete proving indulgence of accused in the offence, which was not there in the case," the judge said.
As per the prosecution, Irfan, who was working as a cartoonist with the weekly news magazine Outlook, was kidnapped and later killed by a gang of auto-snatchers on the National Highway 24 in east Delhi on March 8, 1999.
Following is the chronology of events in the murder case:
March 8, 1999: Cartoonist Irfan Hussain, employed with Outlook news magazine, was abducted near Gazipur in East Delhi and later murdered at about 10:45 PM.
March 9, 1999: A missing report was lodged at the Sarojini Nagar police station by Irfan's wife Dr Munira Hussain.
March 10, 1999: A complaint under Section 365 (kidnapping with intent to wrongfully confine) and Section 302 (murder) of the IPC was lodged.
March 13, 1999: Irfan's body found in a bush near Mayur Vihar alongside National Highway 24.
March 1999: The police allegedly recovered a bag belonging to the victim from Mirakh Pur village in Sonepat, Haryana.
December 5, 1999: The car stereo, which was sold by one of the accused Mohd Shahid to Himland Motors was recovered.
December 9, 1999: The Delhi police with the help of Jammu and Kashmir Police allegedly recovered Irfan's Maruti car near Anantnag town in the valley but the driver managed to escape.
December 14, 1999: Five accused Mustafa Ansari, Sanjay Kumar, Heera Singh, Mohammed Jasim and Mohammed Sahid -- were arrested from the court of Metropolitan
Magistrate Sanjeev Jain where they were being produced in another case of auto snatching.
February 8, 2001: The court frames charges against the five under Sections 364 (Kidnapping with an intent to murder), 302 (murder) and 34 (group liability) of the IPC.
June 1, 2001: Mohammed Sadiq, a juvenile and sixth accused in the case, was arrested. And, the police files supplementary charges.
July 23, 2001: The Additional Sessions Judge starts recording of evidence of the Prosecution witnesses.
September 12, 2005: Mohammed Sadiq being a juvenile sought the transfer of his trial to the Juvenile Justice Board.
September 19, 2005: The ASJ transfers Sadiq's case to the JJB.
January 3, 2006: The court completes recording of statements of 60 prosecution witnesses.
January 30, 2006: The ASJ records statements of accused persons wherein they pleaded innocence.
February 4, 2006: The final arguments in the case begins.
February 27, 2006: Final arguments in the case concludes.
Februry 28, 2006: The court, in its oral order, acquits all the five accused for the lack of evidence.
March 31, 2006: Additional Sessions Judge Talwant Singh delivered the written judgment wherein held that the present case was completely based on circumstantial evidence and the prosecution failed to link the chain of events with the accused.