Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gujarat HC acquits man falsely implicated by dying wife

Gujarat high court on Friday acquitted a man who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder on the basis of his wife's dying declaration. This declaration, the court said, was made with revenge in mind as the husband was reluctant to divorce his wife.

Khimiben Pawar died of burn injuries on August 21, 2007 in Gondal Vihar village of Navsari district. Her husband, Raman Pawar, was arrested for murder after his wife claimed in her dying declaration that her husband, who was drunk, had poured kerosene on her and lit a matchstick. A sessions court had convicted Raman Pawar to life imprisonment in November but he questioned the conviction before the high court.

During the hearing in the high court, Pawar's advocate Pratik Barot submitted that the wife was asking for a divorce but Pawar was reluctant because the couple had four children. He highlighted discrepancies in the collected evidence, particularly the dying declaration that was recorded by the executive magistrate but did not have a doctor's endorsement. The family was from Maharashtra and Khimiben did not know Gujarati but the dying declaration was in Gujarati. There was no evidence that it was translated and read out and explained to the victim, the lawyer told the court.

The wife had claimed in her dying declaration that their two children were sent to a neighbour's house to watch TV but the neighbour had turned them away. It came on record that the kids were sent out by the woman herself. The police did not present documents that showed that Pawar had sustained burn injuries while trying to save his wife.

After the proceeding, the high court came to the conclusion that the woman had set herself on fire and falsely implicated her husband, said the lawyer. It observed that in most cases, dying declarations are true as dying people do not have a reason to lie. But in this case, it seemed the woman wanted to frame her husband.

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