HC frees woman convicted of murdering `alleged` husband
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Last Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 15:14
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has acquitted a woman, who was sentenced to life for murdering her 'husband' allegedly to grab a house bought by him in her name, after finding that she was neither married to the man nor the house was bought by him.

While acquitting Ghonda resident Shakuntla after discovering facts starkly opposed to those on which her conviction had been based, a bench of justices Anil Kumar and SL Bhayana held that the "trial court erred" in convicting the woman.

"The trial court's reliance on such weak evidence which in the present facts and circumstances appears to have been planted, is unsustainable and thus liable to be set aside," the bench said, while also pointing out that no motive could be attributed to the convict for committing the crime.

Shakuntala was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court on September 11, 2001 for murdering her alleged husband Joginder Singh, whose body was found near a pond at Usman village in east Delhi on April 18, 1996.

As per the prosecution case, Shakuntla was married to Joginder and had bought a house in her name but after relations between the two turned sour, he began pressurising her to sell the house and give half of the money to him. This led to the murder, the prosecution alleged.

But while adjudicating Shakuntala's appeal against her conviction, the high court found that the house, which was allegedly bought by Joginder, was in the name of Shakuntala's mother and the prosecution had failed to explain it.

To prove that the woman was married to the slain man, and the two were living together as husband and wife, the prosecution also produced a photocopy of a ration card issued on November 17, 1992.

But Shakuntla's counsel Ritu Gauba pointed out to the court that Joginder was arrested in 1992 under anti-terror law TADA and had been in jail for almost three years. And the prosecution failed to explain as to how a ration card in Joginder's name could be prepared when he was in jail.

The address on the ration card too was not the one at which Shakuntla was alleged to be living with Joginder, argued Gauba, while adding that her client was married to one Pritam Singh.

"The prosecution has utterly failed to establish the motive of the crime," the bench said, adding, "In the totality of the facts and circumstances its not only that some of the important links in the chain of circumstantial evidence is missing but in our opinion the entire chain of events is missing."


First Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 15:14

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