Four-and-a-half years after hotelier Lalit D’Souza, 42, allegedly shot at his sister Lorna, 44, six times over a minor parking space dispute, a sessions court on Wednesday found him not guilty of the attempt to murder charge.
The trial court instead convicted him for causing grievous hurt to Lorna, holding that he had no intention to kill her, and the attack occurred in the spur of the moment. The court handed down three years’ prison term to the hotelier, who walked free as the court also granted him bail. Had the court accepted the prosecution’s charge, D’Souza would have received a much severer penalty.
The prosecution had alleged that D’Souza fired six rounds at his sister Lorna over a minor parking dispute in their plush Cuffe Parade residence in the wee hours on October 28, 2007. Of the six bullets, four hit Lorna in the chest and torso. She survived the near-fatal attack, but had to undergo several surgeries.
The police had booked him for attempt to murder under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The prosecution argued the siblings had a serious property dispute after their father’s untimely death.
The prosecution tried to substantiate the charge contending the injuries were on vital parts of the body, which reflected D’Souza’s intention to eliminate his elder sister. “She was grievously hurt and survived only because of god’s blessings,” argued public prosecutor Nilima Kasture.
D’Souza’s advocate Sudeep Pasbola countered by saying that he fired in defence as his sister had attacked him with an iron rod.
Though the court discarded the self-defence theory, it held that the circumstances lacked ingredients for attempt to murder, and therefore convicted D’Souza for causing grievous hurt to Lorna, under section 326 of the IPC.
After the conviction, Kasture demanded maximum punishment, but Pasbola sought leniency, and said: “He is 42 years old and wants to get married. Moreover, he is a businessman and families of his employees depend on him.”
After hearing both the sides, the court handed D’Souza three years of rigorous imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000, which would be paid to his sister towards compensation for the injuries.
Immediately after the sentence was pronounced, D’Souza’s lawyer moved a plea for bail, which the court granted on a personal bond.