On an appeal filed by children of a late Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) conductor, the Bombay High Court has acquitted him from the charges of killing his wife suspecting her fidelity.
A division bench of justices SS Shinde and SP Tavade, on December 23, acquitted Umesh Sawant who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court at Vengurla in March 2013 for killing his wife, Vaishali, with a scythe (koyta).
Sawant challenged his conviction before the HC. Pending hearing, he died on November 29, 2020 and the court decided to abate (drop) the case. However, his two children – 21-year old daughter and 16-year-old son – decided to continue the appeal to clear their father’s name. They were represented by advocates Amit Mane, Sagar Mane and NV Bandiwadekar.
According to the prosecution, on February 16, 2012 at 11.30 am, Sawant returned from work and found his friend Mahesh Madhav had been staying over at his place for two days. On questioning, he was unsatisfied with Vaishali’s reply and got annoyed and killed her with a scythe. Madhav got scared and ran away in the nearby forest. Sawant apparently found him and threatened him not to disclose the incident to anyone.
Sawant then returned home. One of the neighbours, while passing by, saw Vaishali lying in a pool of blood and questioned Sawant who feigned ignorance. On being shifted to hospital, Vaishali was declared dead.
Following investigation, the police arrested Sawant two days after the incident based on Madhav’s statement, said prosecutor SS Hulke.
During the trial, Madhav turned hostile and said that he was in the forest and wasn’t aware as to how Vaishali got injured.
Surprisingly, the prosecution did not examine Sawant’s daughter, who was 13 years old at the time of the incident, and was present in the house.
The prosecution even failed to examine the doctor who conducted the post mortem.
The HC observed that although the Medical Officer was not examined by the prosecution, there is “no dispute that Vaishali died a homicidal death”.
Besides, only Madhav has said that Sawant was present in the house at the time of the incident. “However, PW 1 (Madhav) has turned hostile and did not support the prosecution case,” said HC.
Acquitting Sawant, the HC said: “We are of the considered view that there is no substantive or direct piece of evidence to support the prosecution case and therefore, the prosecution case should fail.”
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