The Bombay high court recently acquitted a 35-year-old man held guilty of murdering his mother by setting her on fire in 2007 and sentenced to life imprisonment. The court set aside the conviction holding that the dying declaration of the woman could not relied upon.
A division bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice Ajey Gadkari acquitted Prakash Mahadik who was sentenced in 2010 by a Pune sessions court for killing his mother Rukhmini. The court in its order quashing the conviction said, "Implicit reliance ought not to have been placed by the trial court on the dying declaration. The dying declaration is certainly not a confidence inspiring piece of evidence much less a piece of evidence on which implicit reliance can be placed. We, therefore, find that the dying declaration will have to be left out of consideration."
As per the prosecution case Praksh and his wife had a fight with the deceased who told them to live separately. The couple is believed to have then thrown a matchstick on the deceased which set her on fire.
She was admitted to a government-run hospital where she sucummed to her injuries after two months. Based on Rukhmini's dying declaration, the police registered a murder case and under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and arrested the couple.
During the trial, the prosecution examined seven witness. Two of the prosecution witnesses turned hostile. However, relying on the dying declaration of the deceased, Prakash was held guilty, while his wife was acquitted of all the charges.
This order was challenged in the HC. After going through the evidence, the court concluded, "The prosecution has utterly failed to prove the truthfulness of the dying declaration. We find that the incident tasks human credulity for its acceptance. If the appellant really intended to set Rukmini ablaze, we find it inexplicable that no kerosene was poured."
It added " The possibility that Rukmini, in order to teach the appellant a lesson, might have set herself ablaze as she had only sustained 28% burns. The aforesaid possibility, according to us, cannot be ruled out."