Delhi High Court has set aside the conviction of a man who had been given a life sentence for killing his sister-in-law by pouring acid on her, questioning the reliability evidence.
“Reliability and credibility of the witness who deposes about the dying declaration are the twin requirements which the trial court is obliged to satisfy itself about, while basing its findings on such evidence,” a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg said.
According to the prosecution, Kishore was unhappy with Meena for working as a domestic help. Despite his objections, she continued with her work and on April 22, 2008, when Meena was at a park, Kishore poured acid on her and fled.
The prosecution said a home guard constable reached the spot on being informed about the incident. On the way to the hospital, Meena narrated the event to him. The court, however, questioned the conduct of the constable, saying, despite “being a responsible officer trained in the drill of what ought to be done when dealing with a medico-legal case”, the constable had left the hospital without waiting for the police to arrive.
“He certainly was not present when the alleged dying declaration was recorded by PW-20 (police officer),” the bench said.
The victim’s neighbour had testified that he heard Meena shouting loudly and running in the street in front of her house saying Jugal Kishore had poured acid on her. The bench, citing the testimony, said the versions of the constable and the neighbour regarding the place of incident are “inconsistent and irreconcilable”.
“This aspect assumes importance because no public witness was associated while the police seized earth control, a jug (which contained acid) and the lid of the jug, from the park,” it said.
It added that “the doctor who recorded the MLC, and also made an endorsement that the injured (Meena) was in a fit state of mind to record the dying declaration, was not joined in the investigation, much less produced in court”.
“The other important aspect is that the injured lived on for two more days, the prosecution did not indicate any attempt on its part to have a declaration or statement recorded,” the bench said.