A 65-year-old woman who was convicted for her paramour’s death in 2013 has been released by the Bombay high court keeping her age and the nature of offence proved against her in mind. The woman had set her paramour ablaze after he refused to pay for her drugs. A sessions court had earlier convicted her for murder. However, on Saturday, a bench comprising of Justices Prasanna Varale and Surendra Tavade converted her conviction to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by the accused, Lata Anklu. She was a widower and was living with the victim, Bhumya Yalmadu, in Mankhurd.
As per the prosecution, Lata was a drug addict and an alcoholic. Bhumya used to pay for her drugs and liquor daily. However, on December 12, 2013, he refused to give Rs 600 to Lata to buy drugs. This upset Lata and in a fit of rage, she poured kerosene on Bhumya and set him ablaze.
On hearing his screams, the neighbours entered their house and doused the flames. They then rushed him to Rajawadi hospital in Ghatkopar, where he was undergoing treatment. However, Bhumya had suffered 85% burns and succumbed to his injuries the next day.
Accordingly the prosecution, a sessions court had convicted Lata for murder and had awarded her life imprisonment.
However, Lata through her lawyer Aniket Vagal told the bench led by Justice Varale that she had no intention to kill Bhumya. She only wanted to hurt him. He argued that his client was upset and the entire incident took place in the spur of the moment.
On the other hand, additional public prosecutor Arfan Sait said that Lata had the intention to kill Bhumya as she had specifically said “he must die”.
Having heard both sides, the bench concluded that the prosecution has proved all charges against Lata. However, it took exception to Sait’s submissions of Lata saying 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 took place in the spur of the moment as he did not fulfill her demand,” the judges stated.
“We accept the submission of Vagal that the incident occurred out of anger. No doubt, she had the 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 said.
The bench further noted her age and the fact that she has been in jail since December 2013. “Since 2013 she has been in custody undergoing a life term. Looking at her age and nature of offence, the sentence undergone by her is sufficient,” the bench ruled. The court then let her off.