After 20 years, court acquits man of murder charge

June 16th, 2009 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Ruling that a dying declaration could not be the only basis for holding anyone guilty, the Delhi High Court has acquitted a man of the charge of culpable homicide of his wife after a lengthy 20-year trial.
Justice S. Muralidhar recently allowed the acquittal appeal of Maghai, who had been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder of his wife.

The court while acquitting the husband said: “The prosecution in this case has miserably failed to prove the offence and the court cannot rely on a mere dying declaration as grounds for booking the person under a serious offence like culpable homicide not amounting to murder.”

According to the prosecution, Maghai and his wife quarrelled on March 3, 1989 over his alleged extra-marital affair with a neighbour. On the day of the incident, Maghai allegedly hit his wife with a brick and she succumbed to the injuries while being taken to hospital.

She gave a dying declaration to the doctor and a police constable in which she named Maghai.

However, the court discounted the prosecution’s theory that the husband and wife were having a strained relationship and said: “When the so-called quarrel between the appellant and his wife remained unproved, I am unable to explain how the trial court proceeded to convict the appellant for the offence of murder.”

Maghai in his defence contended that the prosecution had failed to prove his having illicit relations with a neighbour. He also pleaded that he had been suspended from his job for over 20 years and his entire life had been ruined because of false charges.

The court also declared the doctor concerned as an unreliable witness and said: “The recollection of the facts were unclear. He (the doctor) was not able to give a satisfactory explanation for the interpolations made in the dying declaration. Even the name of the deceased was erroneously recorded and later corrected.

“Considering that the dying declaration was an important piece of legislation, unless it was proved beyond reasonable doubt, it would be unsafe to base the conviction of the appellant on such a document,” the court ruled.

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