The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has reduced the life sentence of a man convicted of killing his wife for not cooking meat properly as the act was neither premeditated nor carried out in cruel fashion.
The court reduced Suresh Shende’s sentence to 10 years in prison for culpable homicide not amounting to murder since he only used a stick and did not know that the injuries caused could result in his wife’s death. Justices Rohit Deo and Urmila Joshi-Phalke observed: “The accused had not prepared for the assault. When he saw that the deceased had not prepared the food, he abused and assaulted her. The weapon used in the present case is a stick.”
They continued: “He had knowledge that injuries could cause the death of the deceased. There was an intention on his part to cause injuries. However, the accused had not taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.” The justices were hearing an appeal filed by Shende challenging his conviction by a sessions court.
The court quoted renowned psychiatrist Sydney Brandon, who, in his paper on physical violence in the family, published in the 1976 book Violence in the Family, noted, “Statistically it is safer to be on the streets after dark with a stranger than at home in the bosom of one’s family, for it is there that accidents, murder, and violence are more likely to occur.”
The present case is one more example of such violence, the bench said. “The deceased was the wife of the accused. It is alleged that the incident occurred as the deceased had not prepared meat properly, due to which the accused got annoyed and gave blows of a stick on her person and she succumbed,” it noted.
According to the prosecution, on September 4, 2015, Shende, who was inebriated, attacked his wife Chhaya for not having cooked meat properly. Neighbours saw the attack and found Chhaya lying unconscious in the house the next morning. She was declared dead by doctors.
The police arrested Shende. One of the neighbours testified that he was an alcoholic and would often quarrel with Chhaya and beat her. At the trial, four of the prosecution witnesses, including Shende’s daughter, turned hostile.
However, the sessions court said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Shende challenged his conviction in the High Court. Reducing the sentence, the court noted: “The facts on record show there was a sudden quarrel and there was no premeditation. The injuries sustained by the deceased were not on vital parts of her body. Admittedly, there were six injuries on the person of the deceased which were in the nature of contusions and internal injuries. A weapon like a stick was used. The evidence nowhere shows that the accused acted in a cruel manner.”
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