Mumbai: Citing lack of evidence, the Bombay High Court has acquitted a 35-year-old man of the charge of killing his wife and ordered his release from jail immediately.
Hearing an appeal filed by Babu Bira Maharana, a resident of suburban Chembur, a bench of Justices Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi and P V Hardas, on January 13, quashed and set aside his conviction by the trial court in 2004.
Babu was held on March 11, 2002, after he reportedly confessed to police to have killed his wife Laxmi.
The court noted that the evidence of a doctor, who had conducted post mortem, shows that on external examination, he did not find any visible injury on the body. "Therefore, the theory of appellant assaulting the deceased with an iron pipe goes away. The doctor has further admitted that asphyxial death can be homicidal, suicidal or accidental."
The judges further observed "this is a case based on circumstantial evidence and hence the aspect of motive was significant. However, the trial court has disbelieved evidence of witnesses, Vimala and Rekha, on the point of ill-treatment thereby acquitting the appellant for the offence under section 498-A (cruelty) of IPC. Hence, there is no evidence relating to motive on the part of the appellant to eliminate his wife."
The court further noted that the doctor had in the post mortem report given a categorical opinion that the cause of death was that "asphyxia due to compression of neck."
The bench also did not accept the extra judicial confession made by the appellant to his neighbour that he had killed his wife. Firstly, because the witness had himself not told police. Two days after the incident when police made inquiries, the witness informed that the appellant had told him that he had killed his wife with a pipe.
"This statement by the appellant before this witness cannot be called as confession of guilt, because, admittedly, the death has not taken place due to assault by iron pipe but it is due to compression of neck," the judges said.
"This witness has not deposed that appellant has told him that he has committed murder of his wife by compressing her neck. Hence, it cannot be admitted in evidence as a confessional statement of appellant. It goes against the medical evidence on record," the judges added.