Mumbai

After eight years in jail, HC sets murder accused free

The Bombay High Court has acquitted a man who had spent eight years in prison on charges of setting his wife on fire.

A Division Bench of Justices B.P. Dharmadhikari and Sandeep Shinde was hearing an appeal filed by Sanjay Barde challenging the order awarding him life imprisonment. An additional sessions judge on June 20, 2011, had convicted him under Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

On March 8, 2010, Mr. Barde’s wife Lahanubai was cooking when he came to her and started blaming her for having an affair with his brother Kishore. He then allegedly poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. Two dying declarations of the wife were recorded on March 9 and 10. An FIR was registered under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. When she succumbed to her burns, her husband was arrested and the charge was converted to Section 302.

Advocate Grishma Lad, appearing for Mr. Barde, argued that the prosecution has not investigated the matter completely and that there is no material to show that Mr. Barde was home at the time of the incident.

Ms. Lad contended that Lahanubai died because the stove exploded and the flames engulfed her. She also said, “The dying declarations do not inspire confidence since fingers of both hands were burnt and dying declarations carry [her] thumb impression, which shows trenches and curves clearly.” She pointed out that both the dying declarations are different.

The court took into consideration thumb impressions on the victim’s dying declaration, besides the deposition of the doctor treating her, Dr. Vandana Shewale, that the victim could not have given a thumb impression and it was not obtained in her presence. The court also recorded that the deposition of Dr. Mangala Tungar, who conducted the post mortem, states that her fingers were burnt, that there was a huge delay in recording the FIR, that the victim’s clothes were not found at the spot of the incident. All this, the court said, raise doubts about the prosecution’s story.

The order said, “Prosecution could not bring on record any material to show that Barde was in the house at the time of the incident or immediately thereafter, and there is no arrest panchanama showing the place from which he was arrested to show that he had absconded.”

The court granted the benefit of doubt to Mr. Barde and allowed an appeal. It quashed the order of conviction and acquitted him.


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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 2:04:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/after-eight-years-in-jail-hc-sets-murder-accused-free/article29835997.ece

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