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The Supreme Court has reduced the life term sentence of a woman and her paramour who together killed her husband on the ground of “grave provocation” because the victim had called the woman and their daughter a “prostitute”.

“In our society, no lady would like to hear such a word from her husband,” the bench of Justices M Shantanagoudar and Dinesh Maheshwari said last week.  “Most importantly, she would not be ready to hear such a word against her daughters. The incident is a result of a sudden and grave provocation by the deceased.”

The court said that under the circumstances, the offence fell under the category of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and commuted the life terms awarded to Ragila and Nawaz to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. The husband is said to have suspected Nawaz of having an affair not just with his wife Ragila but also their elder daughter.

One day, after a quarrel broke out between the couple, the husband called his wife a “prostitute” and accused her of goading her daughter also into the profession. The paramour is said to have taken offence at the suggestion and the two then throttled him to death. His body was discovered 40 days later after Ragila confessed to a local teacher.

The Madras High Court upheld the sentence given by the trial court after which Ragila and her paramour appealed to the apex court against the convictions and the punishment.

“Everything occurred in the fraction of a minute. Since the accused, because of the aforesaid conduct of the deceased calling accused No. 1 (wife) and her daughter as prostitute, was deprived of the power of self-control,” the top court ruled.

“The accused are hereby convicted under Section 304, Part I of IPC (culpable homicide) and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of ten years.”

—India Legal Bureau

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