NEW DELHI: More than two decades after being sentenced to life for killing her husband, based on circumstantial evidence including “having tea” with her relatives and not sitting by the body, the
has acquitted a woman saying her guilt cannot be inferred just because she was not found saddened by the death.
The apex court said the trial court and the Punjab and
committed an error in awarding life imprisonment to her by “heavily” relying upon the statement of her sister-in-law that the woman’s behaviour was ‘very normal’ even after her husband’s body was found hanging from the roof. As the postmortem report concluded that it was not a case of suicide but murder, the trial court and the HC found her guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence as she was in the house when the
The incident took place in 1997 in Haryana’s
where the man’s body was found hanging in the store room, two days after his mysterious disappearance. In 1998, the trial court accepted the prosecution case that she had killed her husband as she was having an extramarital affair and wanted to grab the property. The trial court had also awarded life imprisonment to her two brothers and held that the man was killed by them and thereafter his body was hanged to pass it off as suicide.
All convicts had moved the HC, which acquitted the woman’s brothers but found her guilty in 2008. Both the trial court and HC relied upon the statements of her in-laws, who blamed her for the murder. The apex court, which had granted her bail in 2009, quashed her conviction as there was no credible evidence against her and raised questions as to how the lower court and HC could decide her guilt merely because she was “enjoying tea” with her brothers when the body was still lying in the house.
“The trial court and the HC have readily, and rather heavily, relied upon an assertion made by PW-8 (deceased sister) in her statement that she (the accused) was ‘enjoying tea’ with her brothers and other relations on the first floor; and was not found stressed or perplexed or saddened,” a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said. It also pointed out that her statement was not even remotely corroborated by any other witness.
The court accepted the plea of senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, who contended on behalf of the woman that being a frail woman, she could not have strangled her husband and then hanged the body from the ceiling fan by herself, and submitted that he was killed by an outsider who intruded into the house.
In a similar case in November, a woman in
was convicted for murder of her husband by the trial court and HC on the basis that she was last seen with her husband before the mysterious death and she was not found weeping. Senior Advocate Shri Singh and Kartikeya Asthana, appearing for the woman, had convinced the SC that not crying was not abnormal behaviour to impose guilt on her.
“Moreover, it had been too unrealistic on the part of the trial court and the HC to observe that she ought to have been found sitting with the body. Admittedly, the corpse was emitting foul smell and the witness reached the spot at 4.30 in the morning though she had noticed the body the previous evening and had taken steps for informing all concerned…. In the given circumstances, no fault could be foisted on her if she did not remain with the body all through,” the court said.