FPJ Legal: Man, wife get life term for burning alive sister-in-law

A sessions court in Mumbai last week sentences a 50-year-old man and his 40-year-old wife to life imprisonment for pouring kerosene over his sister-in-law and setting her on fire. The victim who suffered 50 percent burns, died two days after the attack.

The court relied on the victim, Tasbirunissa Khan’s dying declaration given to the police a day before the Govandi resident died at Rajawadi hospital where she was taken for treatment. It had formed the basis for the FIR. The court also considered the testimony of a female neighbour who had taken the victim to the hospital after the incident.

The duo Iqbal Khan and Shahin Khan had already spent over five months as undertrials in the case. A five-year-old child of the duo was living in Byculla jail with Shahin during her custody. The court ordered that the child be given in the custody of her sister, an adult. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjashree J. Gharat said in her judgment that detention of the young child even in the custody of the mother, would have an adverse impact on physical and mental development of the child.

While doing so, the court relied on Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, of which India is a signatory which mandates that the detention of children should be a matter of last resort and for the shortest period of time and that even if such detention is required, that they be separated from adults.

While deciding the quantum of punishment, the court said that while showing leniency to the accused, the sufferings of the victim cannot be forgotten. She lost her life not due to her own fault but due to a family dispute over a small portion of the house, the court said, adding that she also had small children.

On 26 October, 2015, Tasbirunissa was alone at home with her three children. Her husband had gone to work. The accused couple also lived in separate portion of the house as the couples had a long standing dispute over the ownership of the house. That day, Iqbal Khan picked a quarrel with Tasbirunissa and then poured kerosene over her. Shahin was equally involved in the crime.

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Free Press Journal