Observing that bride burning is a serious social offence, the Bombay High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a life convict challenging a Maharashtra government order placing him in a category that prescribes 26 years of imprisonment.
"In spite of stringent provisions of law and deterrent steps taken, we find that incidents of violence against women could not be curbed," a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and A V Nirgude said in a recent order.
"Considering the matter in its entirety, we are of the view that no fault can be found with the decision taken by the State (in placing the convict in category 2(c) of guidelines relating to crimes against women issued on March 15, 2010, for premature release of convicts)," the judges noted.
"The petitioner (convicted for setting wife on fire and causing her death) has committed a heinous crime, which is required to be condemned. It is an offence against society at large. As there is no merit in the petition, it is dismissed."
Petitioner Bharat Ingle had challenged an order of the Home Department of October 2012 in which he was placed in category 2(c) of the guidelines issued under a Government Resolution of March 15, 2010. Under this category, he was to undergo 26 years of imprisonment. The petitioner contended that he should be placed in category 1(c) of the old guidelines of the year 1992 which prescribes a jail term of 24 years.
Considering the facts of the case and evidence brought on record, it is clear Ingle did not commit the offence with premeditation, his counsel V M Lomte said.
"There was no prior preparation for commission of the offence. In a moment of sudden fight between husband and wife, Ingle poured kerosene on his wife and torched her in an outburst of anger," he said.
The lawyer said his client had so far spent more than 14 years in jail and was entitled to premature release if remission (reduction of sentence) was considered. He said a proposal had been forwarded to the State in this regard.
Under the rules, a convict, after spending 14 years in jail, is categorised by the State for considering premature release and is entitled to remission benefit.