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HC corrects a ‘fatal’ translation, man gets a new lease of life

Commutes man’s death term to life after discovering error in translation of evidence from Marathi to English.

Written by Aamir Khan | Mumbai |
January 29, 2015 1:02:00 am

Incorrect translation from Marathi to English has proved to be a new lease of life for a murder convict, literally.

The Bombay High Court recently commuted a man’s death penalty to life term while observing that the evidence translated from the vernacular language to English by the trial court was contrary to what was really spoken.

On August 16, 2013, a court sentenced Sunil Ombase (28) to death for killing his son, sister-in-law and attempting to kill his wife Sanjivani.

According to the police’s FIR, on the intervening night of December 31, 2012, and January 1, 2013, a fight broke out between Sunil and Sanjivani. Sunil, who felt that Sanjivani was giving more attention to her son, packed his bags to leave the house and asked her if she wanted to reside with him as his wife or if she preferred to tend to her son. An argument ensued after which Sanjivani took out a knife and stabbed Sanjivani. He later stabbed his son Swapnil and his sister-in-law Pallavi.

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During interrogation, Sunil had told the police his action was a result of “rage and sudden provocation” following utterances from his wife about his impotency and sexual incapacity.

After the trial court sentenced him to death, Sunil moved the High Court, which said that Sanjivani’s statement, which was originally recorded in Marathi, had been “absolutely wrongly” translated by the trial court. Sanjivani’s statement, it observed, was an admission detrimental to the prosecution’s case, which went to the root of the matter and diluted the case of the prosecution with respect to the “intention” of the accused.

The translation according to the trial court, the HC said, was: “It is not true to say that, the accused did not have intention to assault me or to kill my son and sister, following my unwarranted comments.”


However, the judges clarified, what the statement actually meant was: “As I provoked the accused, he assaulted me, my son and my sister. He had no intention to kill us.”

“Considering the entire evidence on record, including the admission given by Sanjivani in her cross-examination, we are of the considered view that it is not a case which falls in the category of ‘rarest or rare’ where imposition of death sentence is imperative,” the HC held.

The HC, however, said there was no doubt that Sunil had committed a heinous crime but that, after taking all facts into consideration, did not warrant capital punishment. “Hence, we are not inclined to confirm the sentence of death.”


“We are inclined to make the sentence of imprisonment under Sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code consecutive,” the HC said, while commuting Sunil’s capital punishment to life term.


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First published on: 29-01-2015 at 01:02:00 am

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