24 Aug 2023 9:15 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently upheld the conviction of a 51 years old woman who murdered her neighbour's 3-year-old grandchild and attempted to kill three other grandchildren by throwing them in a canal over repayment of an illegal loan.A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Gauri Godse observed that throwing a three-year-old child into the canal is so imminently...
The Bombay High Court recently upheld the conviction of a 51 years old woman who murdered her neighbour's 3-year-old grandchild and attempted to kill three other grandchildren by throwing them in a canal over repayment of an illegal loan.
A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Gauri Godse observed that throwing a three-year-old child into the canal is so imminently dangerous that the appellant had knowledge that it would cause his death.
“The evidence on record clearly reveals that the act of throwing three-year-old child Tejas into the canal was so imminently dangerous that the appellant had knowledge that, in all probabilities, it would cause his death. Thus, the death of Tejas squarely falls within the definition of murder under Section 300 of IPC, and it does not fall under any of the exceptions. Therefore, it amounts to culpable homicide amounting to murder”, the court held.
The appellant, Sangita Vilas Kiwade, was convicted under sections 363 (kidnapping), 302 (murder), and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC for abducting four children and pushing three of them into a canal, leading to the demise of the youngest of them – a three-year-old. She is also convicted under section 32B(b) of the Bombay Money ending Act for operating illegal money lending business.
The appellant lent Rs. 50,000/- to the grandmother (complainant) of the four children at 10 percent per annum interest two years before this incident. The prosecution alleged that she held a grudge due to non-repayment of the money, and thus kidnapped the four children aged nine, seven, five and three years. According to the prosecution, on November 18, 2010, after initially visiting the appellant's residence to watch television, one of the children returned home to inform his family that the appellant was taking them to eat ice cream. As time passed and the children did not return, their family started searching for them.
Between 8:15 pm and 8:30 pm, police reached the complainant’s house with three of the children. The children alleged that the appellant had taken them in an auto-rickshaw to a canal in Nagar, Pune pushed them into it. They said that the appellant’s minor daughter who was present at the scene tried to stop her mother. FIR was lodged against the appellant for kidnapping and attempt to murder. Three days later, the police recovered remains of the 3-year-old child from the canal near Mahadev temple at Shinde Vasti, Hadapsar, Pune. After that offences of murder and illegal money lending were added against the appellant.
The prosecution's case hinged primarily on the testimonies of child witnesses including the victims and another 12-year-old child. The children recounted that the appellant successfully pushed three of them in the canal, but the fourth bit her and managed to escape and seek help. Thus, two of the drowning children were rescued, but the youngest child could not be saved. The appellant was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Hence, she filed the present appeal.
The court noted that the trial judge conducted preliminary questioning and recorded his satisfaction with the children’s comprehension and ability to provide accurate accounts. The court highlighted the consistent narrative presented by other witnesses, including the complainant and grandmother of the children, and one Laxman Pavale, who actively participated in the rescue efforts. The court held that evidence of the three child witnesses who were the victims is also corroborated by the identification of clothes, finding of body of the drowned child, and evidence of their grandmother with respect to the motive.
The court ruled out the possibility of tutoring in the children’s testimonies and opined that the evidence of the witnesses is cogent, natural, trustworthy and inspires confidence. The appellant did not show that she had any valid license for lending money on interest, the court added.
In addressing the appellant's contention that the incident was a tragic mishap, the court drew attention to evidence suggesting her malevolent intent. The court concluded that the three-year old’s death met the criteria for murder under Section 300 of the IPC, given that the appellant was fully aware of the potentially fatal consequences of her actions.
Thus, the court upheld that appellant’s conviction and dismissed the appeal.
Case no. – Criminal Appeal No. 619 of 2021
Case Title – Sangita Vilas Kiwade v. State of Maharashtra
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