A 95-year-old woman was on Tuesday given life sentence by the Delhi High Court for burning to death her daughter-in-law and her seven-month-old grandson 15 years ago for dowry. The order comes 13 years after a trial court acquitted her.
The high court held Sumitra guilty of committing the double murder in collusion with her elder son and daughter-in-law after setting aside the trial court’s 1998 order, acquitting the trio. The woman’s elder son and daughter-in-law, however, died early this year before the high court could conclude its hearing.
The high court convicted Sumitra, relying upon the dying declaration of the victim Meenu, who had told the sub-divisional magistrate the three had set her ablaze after dousing her with kerosene oil even as she held her child in her arms.
She said though her husband and her father-in-law never harassed her, her mother-in-
law and her elder son and his wife used to harass her for dowry.
“Finding the dying declaration of Meenu to be inspiring utmost confidence, with no iota of doubt about her mental faculty, we unhesitatingly rely upon it to hold that the charge of murder stands proved beyond doubt against the respondent-accused, as she was instrumental in setting Meenu on fire,” the bench said, convicting the nonagenarian woman.
Pulling up the trial judge, the high court said “such an approach of the trial court is not only patently perverse but has also resulted in a grave miscarriage of justice”.