The Bombay High Court has acquitted a man convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code on charges of burning his wife alive.
The division bench of Justices Sadhana S. Jadhav and Milind N. Jadhav heard the appeal and said the criminal appeal is allowed. The conviction and sentence imposed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Pune is set aside and the appellant is acquitted of all the charges levelled against him, the bench said.
The appellant submitted that the dying declaration in the case cannot be relied upon to convict him. It is also submitted that although the magistrate had accompanied the police, the statement is not recorded by the magistrate.
The injured was admitted in the afternoon at 2.45 pm and had herself voluntarily given a history of accidental burns.
The police constable has also stated that the treatment had commenced before the statement was recorded and at that time she was murmuring something. In these circumstances, no reliance can be placed on the dying declaration and the accused deserves to be acquitted, the Court said.
The upper limbs were burnt to the extent of 8% each and therefore, the thumb mark could not have been so clear therefore, the entire recording of the dying declaration is doubtful, the appellant had submitted.
The appellant had been convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life by the Additional Sessions Judge, Pune on Order dated 31/1/2013.
The appellant and his wife got married 13 years ago. On 18/11/2009, the wife was admitted to Sassoon Hospital, Pune with a history of burn injuries. Since it was a medico-legal case, she disclosed to police that her husband is an alcoholic and is not gainfully employed.
Narrating the day’s events, she said her husband asked her to lend money to buy alcohol and she refused. Due to this, the husband started assaulting his wife and when she went to sleep, the husband poured kerosene all over her and set her ablaze. The victim succumbed to burn injuries on 23/11/2009.
In the case, it was also submitted that the dying declaration itself is sufficient to convict the accused and the Judgment of the trial court calls for no interference. The statement of the deceased indicts the accused and therefore, the same can be relied upon and no corroboration is required, the petitioner also submitted.
The court observed that the learned trial court has not referred to the history given by the patient herself and has only considered the line of treatment given to the patient and also the fact, that she was admitted to the hospital by one Bhapkar, who hasn’t been examined.
The history narrated by the patient before the doctor creates doubt in respect of the statement recorded between 9.00 p.m to 9.45 p.m. and which is held to be the dying declaration. A dying declaration is by itself sufficient to convict an accused of the accusation levelled against him provided the dying declaration is found to be voluntary, truthful and hence, could inspire the confidence of the court. It is not necessary that a dying declaration shall necessarily be recorded in question and answer form or in any particular format