Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has acquitted a 35-year-old man on charges of killing his wife by setting her afire after refusing to consider the "dying declarations" on the grounds that they were not recorded in the language of the victim.
Also, the court said there was "no endorsement" from the victim admitting that the contents of the declarations were correctly recorded.
A bench of Justices P V Hardas and Mridula Bhatkar, on November 11, set aside a lower court order awarding life sentence to Sanjay Bansode for killing his wife, Geeta.
The bench ordered Sanjay`s release from jail if he was not wanted in any other case.
The prosecution alleged that there used to be frequent fights between the couple and on July 13, 2004, Sanjay poured kerosene on Geeta and set her afire.
Geeta was admitted to a hospital where she gave dying declarations to a police inspector and a special executive Magistrate describing how she was torched by her husband.
The trial court had relied upon the two dying declarations while convicting Sanjay. However, the High Court did not take the dying declarations into consideration as it felt that they suffered from infirmities.
Although Geeta had given her deposition in Marathi, the dying declarations were recorded in English by the Special Executive Magistrate. The SEM said she had read over the dying declaration to Geeta before taking her signature but there was no mention of this fact in the declarations.
"We find that there is no endorsement whatsoever that the dying declarations had been read over to Geeta and that she had admitted the contents to have been correctly recorded. We further find another infirmity in the dying declarations, namely, that these have not recorded in the language of the declarant," said the Judges.
On these grounds, the dying declarations cannot be considered, the bench said.
Geeta`s parents did not support the prosecution case though they said there were frequent fights between the couple and added they had no relations with their daughter after her marriage to Sanjay because it was against their wishes.
Her minor son, Swapnil, who was examined as defence witness, said his mother had called Sanjay for help after she caught fire and the latter poured water on her to douse the flames.