FPJ Legal: Man who attacked wife with acid acquitted as wife turns hostile in court

Mumbai: A 34-year-old man accused of attacking his wife, who suffered burns to her face, chest, and back, was acquitted by a sessions court on Monday. The court acquitted Nitin Sonkhamble, a Chembur resident, after his wife who was the complainant and key witness in the case turned hostile during the trial.

Sonkhamble was booked under section 326 of the Indian Penal Code for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means and was arrested by RCF police station in 2019 after his wife had registered a complaint him. RCF police officials had recorded her statement at Sion Hospital where she had undergone treatment.

But she did not support the prosecution’s case during the trial. Additional Sessions Judge UM Padwad in his judgement said that since the only eye-witness and informant did not support the case, no incriminating evidence came on record against the accused. She was subjected to cross-examination, but did not state anything against her husband. She also denied the parts of her statement regarding the acts of the man, noted the court. The court also noted that the woman categorically stated that she wanted to resume her relationship with him and has no grievance against him. The court further noted that this is the obvious reason why she did not state a single word against her husband.

The court, therefore, had done away with a recording of the accused’s statement under Sec 313 of CrPC.

The court further noted that a friend of the victim, who had reached the spot of crime and to whom the wife had narrated the incident, and who had taken her to Sion Hospital for treatment, was also not inclined to support the prosecution’s case and hence was not examined as a witness.

The investigating officer who had seized the victim’s saree and an empty plastic bottle which had contained the acid, was examined, but the court said his evidence was not sufficient to establish the offence. It said that it is not proved that the substance that was thrown on the victim was acid and hence there is absolutely no evidence against the accused.

As per the police complaint, on 11 October, 2019, the woman, who worked as a housekeeper, was on her way back from work when Sonkamble met her between two modes of transport she used to take, and said he wanted to speak with her. He said he wanted to consume liquor before speaking and taking out a bottle from his pocket, had splashed the substance on her. The man was in prison for over a year and five months while the matter was in court.

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