New Delhi: A 48-year-old woman has been
sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court for burning to
death her pregnant daughter-in-law within a year of her
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Mamta Tayal awarded
life sentence to Geeta Devi relying on the dying declaration
of the victim Laxmi who had said that though she faced no
demand of or harassment for dowry, her mother-in-law had a
general dislike for her.
The victim had said she still wanted to live with her
husband despite her mother-in-law`s dislike for her.
The court sentenced Geeta Devi saying she committed
the "cold-blooded murder" of her daughter-in-law due to her
general dislike for her while on the fateful day she committed
the ghastly act following a dispute over food.
"There is sufficient circumstantial evidence coupled
with the dying declaration of Laxmi to prove beyond reasonable
doubt that it was accused Geeta who had poured kerosene oil
on Laxmi and set her on fire thereby causing her death," the
"The allegations of demand of dowry and cruelty as
levelled by the victim`s parents are general, vague and
omnibus," the judge added.
Laxmi had told the sub-divisional magistrate in her
dying declaration that on April 29, 2006, night when she was
lighting the stove to make tea for herself, her mother-in-law
poured kerosene oil over her and set her ablaze because she
did not like her and used to taunt her regularly.
"On that day, prior to the incident, Geeta had fought
with her over food and was angry with her. She further stated
that her husband Anil, who had returned from office at that
time only, had tried to save her and taken her to hospital,"
the court noted from her dying statement.
The next day after the incident Laxmi, who was six
months pregnant at the time of the incident, in her first
statement, had exonerated her mother-in-law stating that she
had caught fire accidentally.
However, later when her death became certain, she told
the SDM that her mother-in-law tried to kill her and she had
made her earlier statement under fear.
The judge said only the second statement can be relied
on and not the first one as she had survived for 10 days after
the incident and during her first statement she did not
foresee her death.
"Apparently, on the very next day of the incident, she
did not apprehend that she was going to die. This can be
gathered from the statement wherein she asserted that after
recovery, she wanted to live with her husband. This reflects
the mental status of a newly-married women who was loved by
her husband but disliked by her mother-in-law.
"Even after the incident, she wanted to continue her
relation with her husband because he was not at fault. But she
realised that by putting her mother-in-law in the dock, she
cannot restart her married life," the court noted.