Madras High Court sets aside conviction of a woman who set her minor daughter on fire for offence under Section 302 IPC; Commutes Life sentence to 10 years RI

Madras High Court

Madras High Court: In a Criminal Appeal filed under Section 374 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, against the judgment passed by the Mahila Court, wherein the Court has convicted the appellant under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC'), the division bench of P.N.Prakash and Dr. G.Jayachandran, JJ. set aside the conviction and sentence of the convict for the offence under Section 302 IPC and convicted her for offence under Section 304(1) IPC and sentenced to undergo 10 years rigorous imprisonment and pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- in default to undergo 6 months rigorous imprisonment.

In the case at hand, the deceased was 13 years old at the time of incident and was not good in studies. Her parents admitted her to the Government Aided Residential School to pursue her studies. However, since she was not interested in studies, she returned home at midnight without informing the Warden. The convict/appellant chided her for running away from the hostel and not pursuing her studies. This appeared to trigger a quarrel between the convict and her daughter in which she is alleged to have angrily thrown kerosene at the daughter and lighted her. Based on the statement of the deceased, police registered a case under Section 307 IPC against the convict. The deceased was given medical treatment for over four months, but she unfortunately succumbed to the injuries. Pursuant to the above, the case was altered from one under Section 307 IPC to Section 302 IPC.

The Court said that there are two dying declarations in this case, one was given by the deceased to the Sub-Inspector of Police, and the other given by her to the Judicial Magistrate. In both the dying declarations, she has stated that since she was not properly studying, her mother was angry with her and when she returned home from hostel, her mother questioned her and thereafter, poured kerosene and set fire.

The Court took note of the evidence and noted that the case was registered for the offence under Section 307 IPC and only after four months, when the deceased succumbed to injuries, the case was altered to one under Section 302 IPC. Records show that the deceased got admitted in the hospital on 12-06-2012 and was discharged from the hospital on 10-07-2012. Again, she was admitted on 25-07-2012 and discharged on 27-08-2012. She finally succumbed to injuries in the hospital only on 01-10-2012.

The Court held that the conviction of the convict for the offence under Section 302 IPC cannot be sustained and instead, the conviction can be one under Section 304(1) IPC.

[Rajeshwari v. State, The Inspector of Police, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 266, decided on 06-01-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Appellant: Advocate R.Manickaraj

For Respondent: Additional Public Prosecutor S.Ravi

*Apoorva Goel, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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