Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has reduced punishment from life imprisonment to ten years for a convict who set his wife on fire but immediately threw a blanket on her to douse the flames.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by Sudhakar Mahadale, lodged in Kolhapur jail, challenging his conviction under section 302 IPC for which he was sentenced to life.
"This conduct (of throwing blanket on his wife to save her) cannot be seen divorced from the totality of the circumstances. Very probably, the appellant would not have anticipated that the act done by him would have escalated to such a proportion that (his wife) Julekha might die," observed Justices V K Tahilramani and Sadhna Jadhav in their order given on February 1.
"If the appellant had intended Julekha to die, he would not have put a mattress on her in an effort to rescue her. It is also pertinent to note that the appellant had also sustained burn injuries on his hand. This shows that while trying to extinguish fire by putting a mattress on Julekha, he sustained burn injuries," the judges noted.
"In view of the evidence on record, we are inclined to think that the appellant had thought to inflict burns and not to kill Julekha, but unfortunately the situation slipped out of his control and went to a fatal accident," they said.
"We alter the conviction of the appellant from section 302 of IPC to section 304 Part II of IPC. In our opinion, the sentence of ten years` RI with Rs 2,000 fine would meet the ends of justice," the judges noted.
Accordingly, the court modified the lower court order of August 31, 2005 which had sentenced the accused to life imprisonment, and instead punished him with ten years` RI.
According to prosecution, Julekha resided with the appellant for seven years from 1997 to 2004 in suburban Govandi. The appellant sold a mobile phone to a person for Rs 1,100. However, Julekha went to the purchaser and took back the mobile after refunding Rs 1,100.
When the appellant learnt about his wife buying back the mobile, a fight broke out between the couple and he poured kerosene on her and set her on fire in a fit of rage. However, he tried to douse the fire by throwing a blanket.