MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and Surendra Tavade on Saturday converted a life term sentence imposed on a 65-year-old woman, who killed her partner by setting him ablaze as he refused to pay for her drugs. The HC has let off the woman after it converted the murder conviction into culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by Lata Anklu, who was a widower and was living with her partner - Bhumya Yalmadu at a chawl in Mankhurd. Both Lata and Bhumya had lost their husband and wife, respectively, and had fallen in love with each other and started living like husband and wife.
Lata, as per the prosecution case, was a drug addict and alcoholic. Bhumya used to pay for her drugs and liquor daily. However, on December 12, 2013, he refused to pay Rs 600 to Lata so that she could procure her drugs. Since she didn't get the desired amount, Lata got annoyed and poured kerosene on her partner Bhumya and set him ablaze.
Their neighbors on hearing Bhumya's voice entered their house and doused the fire and he was taken to Rajawadi hospital, Ghatkopar, where he was treated for the severe burn injuries where he sustained 85 per cent body burns. However, he succumbed to the injuries the following day.
Accordingly, the prosecution's case was accepted by a sessions court in the city and had convicted Lata for murder and awarded her a life term in jail.
But before Justice Varale led bench, the convict through her lawyer Aniket Vagal emphasised on the fact that she didn't want to kill Bhumya and only wanted to cause him hurt. He argued that his client was annoyed and the entire incident took place at the spur of the moment.
On the other hand, additional public prosecutor Arfan Sait pointed out that Lata had the intention to kill Bhumya as she had specifically said that he must die.
Having heard the contentions, the bench concluded that the prosecution has proved all the charges against Lata. However, took exception to Sait's submissions of Lata having said Bhumya must die.
"Except the said words, there is nothing on record to establish that she had the intention to kill him. It appears that the incident had occurred on the spur of the moment as he did not fulfill her demand," the judges said in their order.
"We accept the submission of Mr Vagal that the incident occurred out of anger, annoyance. No doubt, she had knowledge that due to the incident, he may die, but she set him on fire. So it can be said that the provisions of Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) are applicable to the facts of the present case," the judges held.
The bench further noted her age and the fact that she has been in jail since December 2013. "Since then she is in custody and undergoing life term. Looking to her age and the nature of offence proved against her, the sentence undergone by her is sufficient sentence to be imposed to her," the bench ruled.