A 50-year-old woman and her lover were acquitted by the Bombay high court last week on charges of murdering the woman’s ailing husband 12 years ago. However, Baby Pawar, a resident Sangli district, has already spent 10 years in jail.
The division bench of justice VK Tahilramani and justice AR Joshi reversed the conviction of Pawar and her purported lover, Sunil Sarde, on grounds of lack of cogent evidence connecting them with the murder of Baby’s husband Dipak.
The prosecution’s case stated that Dipak worked as a compounder at a hospital in Pune and lived at Koregaon with his family. After Dipak fell ill, the family moved to its native place at Kupwad, where Baby met Sarde, a watchman at the hotel she worked at.
The prosecution claimed the two developed an illicit relationship and both used to take Dipak to hospital for treatment. In 2000, on the day of Anant Chaturdashi, they took Dipak out pretending to take him to hospital. He never returned. When Baby’s two daughters asked her about the whereabouts of their father, she was evasive.
Nothing happened for two years, till December 2002, when Baby suggested that her elder daughter marry the watchman, who is twice her age. When the girl refused, her mother threatened her.
The girl and her sister then approached a local woman’s organisation, which sought the intervention of the superintendent of police, Sangli.
Accordingly, Baby and Sarde were brought to the police station where officers found them giving evasive replies about Dipak.
Interrogation ultimately revealed that they had killed the ailing compounder and further investigation revealed that another police station had disposed of Dipak’s body in September 2000, as it was unidentified.
Both Dipak’s daughters identified the photographs taken by police as that of their father. Accordingly, both Sarde and Baby were chargesheeted for murder and were convicted by a trial court on February 27, 2004. Both were sentenced to life in prison.
The high court, however, found that the entire case was based on circumstantial evidence, and therefore, acquitted them giving them the benefit of the doubt.