Apex court upholds life sentence for woman who killed neighbour

February 13th, 2009 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court has ratified the life sentence given to a woman from Wardha in Maharashtra for killing her neighbour by setting her ablaze after a quarrel.
A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly upheld Kalawati’s conviction Wednesday on the basis of the dying declaration of her victim Babital, the wife of her neighbour Pandurang Lokhande.

Upholding Kalawati’s conviction for torching Babital to death on March 17, 1989, the bench said it did not have any reason to interfere with the ruling of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, which endorsed the sessions’ court ruling convicting the woman.

The bench also upheld the conviction on the basis of the testimony of the victim’s son Sharad. Although he was a child at the time of the murder, he supported his mother’s dying declaration in his deposition during the trial in the sessions court.

“In view of the credible and cogent evidence of the victim’s son and her dying declaration, we find no merit in the present appeal (by Kalawati) which deserves dismissal,” said the bench.

In her dying declaration, Babital had told an executive magistrate in a Wardha hospital that she was winnowing wheat in her courtyard when her neighbour came to her and began a fight over some trivial matter.

She said Kalawti began abusing her and then poured a bottle of kerosene on her before striking a match and setting her ablaze.

Babital’s dying declaration was supported by Sharad, who had told the court that Kalawati had set his mother ablaze in front of him, following which he began crying.

Bhaurao, a man who was witness to the quarrel but had left the place due to the exchange of abuses, returned to the scene after hearing Sharad’s cries.

The bench upheld Kalawati’s conviction, dismissing the defence counsel’s contention that the court need not believe Sharad’s deposition as he was too young when the incident occurred.

The bench dismissed the defence counsel’s contention saying “the evidence of the child witness was cogent and credible”.

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