Bombay HC Confirms Death Sentence To Man Who Killed Daughter And Unborn Grandchild For Performing Inter-Caste Marriage [Read Judgment]
The Bombay High Court has confirmed the death sentence awarded to one Eknath Kumbharkar who was convicted of killing his 9 months pregnant daughter by strangulation as he had kept a 'grudge' against her for performing an inter-caste marriage against his wishes.
A division bench of Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi held that the accused was a menace to the society and had broken the traditional value of a father-daughter relationship. The court was hearing an appeal filed by the accused along with the confirmation case after Additional Sessions Judge, Nashik convicted him under Sections 302, 3016 and 364 of Indian Penal Code on June 19, 2017, and sentenced him to death.
According to the prosecution, deceased Pramila was the daughter of accused Eknath and his wife Aruna. In 2013, Pramila got married outside her caste to one Deepak Kamble, it was a love marriage. Her father held a grudge against her ever since and on June 28, 2013 he strangulated Pramila.
The prosecution's case states that on the date of the incident at 5:30 am in the morning, Eknath went to his neighbour Pramod Ahire (complainant) who was an auto rickshaw driver and told him that his brother had met with an accident so he was required to proceed to Kailash Nagar, Nandurnaka. He requested Pramod to take him there in the auto-rickshaw. Thereafter, the accused stopped at a bus stand and met one of his friends there. Then, Eknath told Pramod that his brother had not met with an accident instead his mother was seriously ill and wishes to see her granddaughter Pramila.
They reached Pramila's matrimonial home and Eknath asked Pramila's mother-in-law to allow Pramila to come with him to see her grandmother who was on her death bed. When Pramila's mother-in-law told him Pramila was 9 months pregnant and had an appointment with her doctor at 11 am, he said he will get her back by 10 am.
All three, the complainant, accused and the deceased proceeded towards Savkar Hospital and once they reached, accused asked Pramod to go call the watchman. When Pramod came back he said he saw Pramila lying on the accused's lap with foam coming out of her mouth. The accused had strangled her with a rope.
Pramod raised an alarm, people nearby rushed to the spot but the accused got out of the rickshaw and escaped. He was later arrested by the police.
APP PP Shinde submitted that the present case comes in the category of "rarest of rare". She contended that the accused has killed his own daughter because she had performed a love marriage outside the caste, which hurt the accused.
"The accused had a feeling in his mind that the said act of Pramila had disreputed him in his community. He also thought that he would not be accepted by his community anymore. Keeping in mind the said grudge the accused committed murder of his own daughter. By the said act he did not spare the unborn child of his own daughter. The said act of the accused shows that he has no value for human life. Conduct of the accused shows that he is menace to the society", Shinde said.
On the other hand, appearing for the accused Rohan Sonawane argued that his client had no criminal antecedents and was 44 years old hence some leniency should be shown.
Court pointed out that during the cross-examination of the complainant, it was suggested to Pramod that as there was a dispute between him and accused on account of money transaction. Thus, he had falsely implicated the accused in the incident.
"In our considered view, there is no substance in the said suggestion as the accused himself has asked PW2 to take him to the house of Pramila as his mother was on death bed and she wanted to see her. Evidence of PW2 makes amply clear that it was the accused who strangulated his daughter by means of rope (Article B). The testimony of PW2 has not been shattered in the cross-examination. PW2 is found to be a trustworthy witness. There is nothing to disbelieve the testimony of PW1", the bench said.
The post-mortem report stated that the cause of death was strangulation and death of the child was caused due to Pramila's death.
The bench observed-
"The evidence on record thus makes clear that the accused in a planned manner, keeping grudge in his mind that his daughter Pramila performed love marriage out of their caste, without his consent and spoiled reputation of his family, committed a gruesome and brutal murder of his own daughter who was carrying nine months pregnancy. The fact that Pramila was likely give birth to the child, was well within the knowledge of the accused. The evidence of PW1 makes clear that although the accused was in visiting terms with Pramila and Pramila used to visit their house and stay there for few days, still, the accused never forgot that Pramila had disreputed him."
Court examined various judgments of the apex court on the point of sentencing, including Jagmohan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Bachan Singh v. State of Punjaband noted-
"Thus, transgression of harmful act of murder of 9 months pregnant daughter can be only prevented by awarding a severe punishment. The accused is nothing but menace to the society. He has broken the traditional value of father and daughter relationship. The accused ought to have taken care of his pregnant daughter who accompanied him in good faith to see her ailing grandmother, who was on death bed whereas the accused has committed murder of his own daughter with a revengeful attitude and keeping in mind a motive. The accused no way deserves any leniency. The accused has infringed the right to live with human dignity and decency in respect of his daughter as well as grand child who was unborn."
The death penalty was confirmed but on request of the defence lawyer, Court stayed the execution of sentence until appeal before the Supreme Court is heard.