Taking note of the attempt made by a man to save his wife after setting her ablaze,the Bombay High Court last week reduced his punishment from life imprisonment to 10 years.
Govandi resident Mohammed Kasam Shaikh was handed out the life imprisonment sentence after a trial court held him guilty of murder of his wife Shabinabanu on July 12,2001. According to the prosecution,Shabinabanu had asked Shaikh for some money to buy medicines for herself. However,when Shaikh refused,she said in that case,it is better that he killed her. An enraged Shaikh poured kerosene on her and set her on fire.
Some neighbours rushed to rescue her and took her to Rajawadi Hospital by 5 pm. However,Shabinabanu succumbed to her burn injuries the next day. A post-mortem report revealed that the death of Shabinabanu was homicidal and she had stated in her dying declaration that her husband had poured kerosene on her and set her on fire.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat-Pai told the court that the dying declaration given by Shabinabanu did not have any infirmities. However,taking into account the statements given by five other witnesses in the case,the court observed that when neighbours covered Shabinabanu with a blanket to extinguish the fire,Shaikh also tried to save her and also went to the hospital along with others.
There was no preparation with intention to cause the death of Shabinabanu. The incident had taken place at the spur of the moment and in the heat of the moment. Therefore,the offence will not come within the ambit of Section 302 (murder) of the IPC, Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice U D Salvi wrote in their judgment.
The court,however,said Shaikh,who had sought an acquittal,was aware that the action of throwing the burnt match on Shabinabanu could take her life and hence cannot be spared the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The court stated that Shaikh,who has been in custody since 2001,may be released after serving the remainder of the 10-year jail term handed out to him.