Seven years after he was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his wife by setting her afire, a man has been acquitted by the Bombay High Court.
The court held that the dying declarations of the victim were contradictory and not enough for the conviction of 42-year-old Akaram Malappa Aaivale, who was in jail since being held guilty in April 2007 by a Kolhapur sessions court for the death of Vijaymala, his wife of 22 years. Also, it said, the evidence could not rule out suicide. He too had sustained 10 per cent burn injuries in the incident which occurred in 2006. Being aggrieved, he filed an appeal in the High Court which set him free two days ago, by giving him the benefit of doubt on account of "weak evidence". "In our opinion, the conviction of the appellant cannot be sustained on the basis of dying declaration alone.
All other witnesses, including the daughter of the appellant and mother of deceased Vijaymala, did not support the prosecution and were declared hostile," said a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas. The court also took into account the evidence tendered by the mother of deceased that on account of the demise of Vijaymala's son-in-law, the latter had become mentally disturbed. "In such a situation, therefore, according to us the possibility of deceased Vijaymala committing suicide on account of trivial quarrel between the appellant and Vijaymala cannot be ruled out," said the judges. Moreover, the judges held that Dr Shashikant Dhumale has admitted that injuries sustained by the appellant were possible in an attempt at dousing the flames.
The possibility of Vijaymala committing suicide is certainly rendered probable in the light of the dying declaration as recorded in medical case papers, the bench observed.