New Delhi, Oct 17: The Delhi High Court has upheld the life sentence awarded by a trial court to a man accused of burning his wife alive for dowry.
A division bench of Justice Kailash Gambhir and Justice Indermeet Kaur upheld the life term of Mahesh, who poured kerosene on his wife and set her afire. The women who sustained 95 percent burns succumbed to her injuries.
The bench also observed that “bride burning have become common in poor and middle stratum of the society” and such “ghastly crimes should be dealt with a heavy hand”.
“Taking the overall view of the facts and circumstances of the present case, we believe that such ghastly crimes should be dealt with a heavy hand. ‘Respect’ forms the basis of our society and respect of a woman should be given prime importance and any such devastating acts that belittles the fundamental values should not be overlooked and snubbed,” the court said.
It added: “In today’s times when a women walks shoulder to shoulder with men, harassment to newly-wedded females for dowry is still spreading appendages in every nook and corner and ruining a number of marriages, pulverizing our faith in the social and cultural values. It’s a curse which the society is facing.”
Mahesh had challenged the order of trial court dated Jan 7, 2010 which awarded life imprisonment to him, saying he was falsely implicated in the case on the behest of his wife’s sister (who brought her to hospital) and alleged that she influenced his wife while she gave a dying declaration.
The incident happened on March 14, 2006 in Mayapuri area of west Delhi. The woman was taken to hospital where doctors said she suffered 95 percent to 100 percent superficial to deep burns. She died on March 20.
In her dying declaration, the victim, who was married to Mahesh for two years, said that the accused poured kerosene on her and then set her on fire. It was further stated that none of her in-laws came to save her. Mahesh was unemployed and used to harass her for dowry.
The court, however, rejected Mahesh’s contention that the dying declaration was “doubtful”, saying it was a vital piece of evidence in the facts of the present case.
The bench also said that recording of the dying declaration is the responsibility of a judicial magistrate and “nobody could easily suspect the impartiality and integrity” of such a government officer in recording the dying declaration of a victim in a fair and impartial manner.
“To challenge the credibility of the judicial magistrate, the defence has to make out a very strong case otherwise the impartiality and independence of the magistrate cannot be easily questioned,” the bench added, dismissing Mahesh’s appeal.