The Bombay High Court has acquitted a 27-year-old man and his mother from the charges of killing his wife by setting her ablaze, observing that the prosecution had failed to establish the involvement of the duo in the crime.
Granting benefit of doubt, a division bench of justices V K Tahilramani and P N Deshmukh dropped all charges against Nashik residents Kishore Khare and his mother Meerabai.
The HC observed that the investigation officer had not recorded statements of other members of the family, particularly one Nana Khare who had taken the deceased, Gayatri Khare, to the hospital on April 13, 2009 when she suffered burn injuries.
Also, a doctor had said in his statement that the cause of death of the victim could be either accidental or homicidal, observed HC.
The judges said: "We thus find that the prosecution had failed to establish that the appellants (Kishore and Meerabai) had set Gayatri on fire."
According to prosecution, Gayatri had said in her dying declaration that her in-laws – Kishore, his parents and brother – had doused her in diesel and set her afire as she had failed to meet their dowry demands.
During the trial, Kishore and Meerabai were convicted while the other two were acquitted.
The HC judges noted that though the police officer, who had recorded dying declaration of the deceased, claimed he had asked the medical officer whether the victim was in a proper frame of mind to give a statement, he had not recorded this fact.
Moreover, the judges said, the dying declaration was silent on whether it was read over to the person who had given such statement and accepted it.
"In the circumstances, the dying declaration cannot be foundation for sustained conviction of the appellants", said HC.