The Delhi High Court has confirmed the conviction and life term of a man for murdering his wife by setting her ablaze after their three children testified against their father.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel dismissed the appeal filed by convict named Virender Singh against the trial court verdict dated January 21, 2017 by which he was held guilty of murdering his wife by setting her ablaze.
He was sentenced to life term and a fine of Rs 25,000.
The bench also referred the matter to the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) for appropriate compensation to the children.
Virender Singh had murdered his wife Darshani around 1.30 pm on April 17, 2012 at their house in north Delhi by setting her on fire after pouring kerosene oil over her.
The three witnesses to the crime were the three children of the convict and the deceased – two sons and a daughter.
Their eldest son, who was 16 years old at the time of the incident, told the court that their entire family was present in their single room house on April 17, 2012.
He expressly stated that his father was a habitual drinker and had been demanding money from her mother for liquor.
Their mother refused to give them money saying she has kept the same for paying the school fee of the three kids and that she had no extra money, the appellant lost his temper and started giving fist and leg blows to their mother and also threatened to kill her in case she did not give him money.
When the three children tried to intervene, the appellant beat them up and took out a bottle of kerosene oil and poured it over their mother and set her on fire by striking a matchstick.
The boy also deposed that he tried to save their mother by covering her with a blanket. The police arrived there on being informed. The injured was taken to the LNJP Hospital where she succumbed to her burn injuries around 7 pm on the same day.
“The fact of the matter is that on the material aspects of his testimony, PW-2 (eldest son) was fully corroborated by PWs 4 and 5 (the other two siblings). All three were present in the room when the incident occurred. The deceased was in fact unwell that day as a result of which the children had not gone to school,” noted the high court.
The court also took into account the deposition of two neighbours of the family who stated that the kids had told them about their father setting their mother on fire and disregarded the defense that the neighbours could not be trusted as they did not attempt to take the victim to the hospital.
“They may not have wanted to become involved in a domestic quarrel. In any event, they are stated to have informed the police who came there and took the deceased and the Appellant away,” said the bench.
On the defence submission that although the appellant accompanied the police in the PCR van to the hospital along with the deceased and remained there throughout, he was not arrested till about 10 pm later that night, the bench said, “The Court does not see this as weakening the case of the prosecution one bit. Clearly, efforts were being made to attend to the victim first. In any event the three children have clearly spoken about the incident and the role of the Appellant and have not been contradicted at all in their cross-examinations
. Their testimonies by themselves are sufficient to bring home the guilt of the Appellant for the offence with which he was charged.”
While confirming the conviction and sentence, the high court ordered, “Although the trial Court appears to have awarded Rs.25,000 as fine, there were no orders made for grant of any compensation to the children. The Court accordingly refers the matter to the Secretary, Delhi State Legal Services Authority to examine the appropriate compensation that should be paid to the children in terms of the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme. For this purpose, a copy of this judgment will be delivered to the Secretary, DSLSA forthwith.”