Mumbai: Bombay High Court has set aside a lower court order sentencing a 50-year-old man to life in prison for murdering his wife by setting her ablaze as his daughter, the only eye witness in the case, turned hostile.
Although the daughter, Kajal, had turned hostile and did not support the prosecution`s case that her father had torched her mother, a trial court in Sangli convicted Shamshuddin Alisab Momin on the basis of the testimony by a neighbour, Ashok.
Ashok had told the trial court that he was informed by Kajal that her father had set her mother on fire after dousing her with kerosene.
However, a high court bench headed by Justice PV Hardas, on October 9, gave the benefit of the doubt to the convict on the ground that Ashok`s version could not be relied upon as it was hearsay evidence.
Moreover, the bench noted that Kajal had turned hostile saying her mother had poured kerosene over herself and set herself ablaze.
The convict had also himself gone to Miraj police station to lodge an FIR about his wife sustaining burn injuries.
High court ordered that the convict may be released from jail unless wanted in some other case.
The convict had filed an appeal through jail and it was heard out of turn. Advocate Arfan Sait was appointed by court to defend the convict.
Kajal, Sait argued, had admitted during cross-examination that her mother had set herself on fire and that her father was not responsible for the death.
On May 19 last year, there was a fight between Momin and his wife Rameja over domestic chores and, in a fit of rage, the latter tried to burn herself by pouring kerosene over herself.
However, according to the prosecution, the accused had doused the victim with kerosene and set her on fire. She died the same day from 60 per cent burns.