The Bombay High Court has quashed the life term imposed on a woman by a trial court for murdering her daughter-in-law,and instead held her guilty for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”,saying she had no intention to kill the latter.
Exonerating the appellant Mangala Thorat of the murder charge under section 302 of IPC,the high court held her guilty under section 304 II IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and sentenced her to six years rigorous imprisonment.
As the appellant has already served five years of the jail term,she would be required to spend one more year behind the bars.
The high court bench of justices P D Kode and V K Tahilramani held in recent order that though there was no doubt that the appellant had set her daughter-in-law Neelam on fire but immediately thereafter she doused the flames.
“This conduct cannot be seen divorced from the totality of the circumstances in this case. Very probably,the appellant could not have anticipated that the act done by her would escalate to such a situation that Neelam might die.
If the appellant had ever intended Neelam to die,she would not have immediately extinguished the fire in an effort to save Neelam”,observed the bench.
In view of the evidence on record,we are inclined to think that the appellant had no intention to kill Neelam. But unfortunately,the situation slipped out of control and it went to a fatal extent. Thus,in the facts and circumstances of this case,we are of the opinion that the case would fall under section 304 II IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and not section 302 IPC (murder),the bench noted.
Neelam got married to Sunil on April 30,2005 and was staying in suburban Ghatkopar along with her husband and in-laws.
On November 25,2005,Neelam and Mangala had a heated argument over some money-related matter following which the latter poured kerosene on Neelam and set her on fire.
Neelam succumbed to her injuries four days later at a hospital. In her dying declaration,she implicated her mother-in-law,father-in-law,husband and his brother.
All of them were tried under sections 302 (murder) and 498-A (cruelty) before a trial court. However,the court acquitted three of them of the murder charge but Mangala,who was convicted for murder,was awarded life imprisonment. She challenged the lower court order in the high court.
Granting Mangala a reprieve,the high court observed that she had no intention to kill Neelam,which was evident from the fact that she immediately put out the fire after realising her mistake.
“This showed that she had never expected to cause death of her daughter-in-law and the act of setting her afire was in a fit of rage”,the Judges said while altering her conviction.