The Bombay High Court commuted the life sentence of a man convicted of killing his wife by pouring kerosene on her, because he made an attempt to extinguish the fire with water soon after and rushed her to the hospital. The court held that the man "would not have anticipated that the act done by him would have escalated to such a proportion" that his wife might die.
In her dying declaration, Vandana Chavan, who had suffered 77% burns, had said that her husband was responsible for the heinous crime, according to Live Law.
This is what the court said:
"From the evidence discussed above, it is seen that after his wife caught fire, the appellant extinguished the fire and took his wife to the hospital. This conduct cannot be seen divorced from the totality of the circumstances. Very probably the appellant would not have anticipated that the act done by him would have escalated to such a proportion that Vandana might die. If he had ever intended her to die, the appellant would not have immediately thrown water on her and extinguished the fire and thereafter, rushed her to the hospital in an effort to save her. In view of the evidence on record, we are inclined to think that all that the appellant thought of was to inflict burns and not to kill her, but, unfortunately, the situation slipped out of control and it went to a fatal extent."
A bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and Justice MS Karnik heard the appeal filed by Hanumant Chavan, convicted by a sessions court in 2011 for the murder of his wife and sentenced to serve life in prison. Chavan, allegedly an alcoholic, came home on the night of 24 November, 2008, and set his wife Vandana on fire after suspecting her of having an affair.
Chavan's lawyer Ameeta Kuttikrishnan told the Bombay HC that Hanumant immediately made an attempt to put out the fire by pouring water over her.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the percentage share of violent crimes increased from 11.3% in 2013 to 11.6% in 2014, and out of the total of 3,30,754 cases reported in that year, 12.4% (40,969 cases) were committed against women (including rape and attempt to commit rape).
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