The Bombay High Court last week upheld conviction of a defense personnel, accused of murdering his wife, primarily relying on the testimony of his seven-year-old daughter.
The court upheld conviction and life sentence awarded to Ramesh Dhelwan, 45.
“It is well-settled that evidence of a child witness can very well be accepted, provided it is truthful, trustworthy and inspires confidence,” observed the division bench of justices DD Sinha and VK Tahilramani.
The bench also noted that the evidence of a child witness needed to be appreciated by the court with great care and caution, but ruled out any possibility of Dhelwan’s daughter Rohini being tutored.
Rohini was the only other person present in the house in Lashkar Cantonment, Pune, when Dhelwan smashed his wife Vimal’s head with a grinding stone.
On September 14, 2001, Dhelwan and his wife had an argument, following which she refused to prepare breakfast for him. Annoyed by the refusal, Dhelwan picked up the grinding stone and smashed her head and face.
Arfan Sait, who represented Dhelwan, had relied on a remark in Rohini’s cross-examination where she said that the stone had fallen on her mother’s head. However, the doctor who performed the post mortem on the victim had found multiple injuries on the head, face and chest, thus ruling out the possibility of an accidental death.
Sait had also pointed out that because of excessive consumption of alcohol, the psyche of the appellant was not normal and, therefore, at times, he would get violent.
He sought the court’s intervention arguing that Dhelwan shouldn’t be punished for committing his wife’s murder in view of his occasional abnormal psyche.
However, the judges refused to sympathise with the accused saying addiction to alcohol was distinct from psychological diseases like schizophrenia.