Minor burns on fingers need not imply they occurred while trying to save a person on fire. They could have occurred while setting the person ablaze.
The Bombay High Court observed this while upholding life sentences of a mother-daughter duo who set their in-law, Vidya Shetye, ablaze in 1996.
In 2004, the sessions court had sentenced Vidya’s sister-in-law Manjula, and mother-in-law Godavari, to life for killing Vidya, after which they approached the high court.
Vidya’s husband Prakash, an autorickshaw driver, also testified against his sister and mother. Vidya had given her dying declaration to Prakash.
After their marriage in 1996, Vidya and Prakash stayed with Prakash’s sister and mother. The two women did not get along with Vidya.
Vidya’s brother had also lodged a complaint against Manjula, Godavari and Prakash for ill-treating and harassing Vidya.
According to Additional Public Prosecutor Mankunwar Deshmukh, on January 4, 1996 Manjula poured kerosene on Vidya and Godavari pushed her on a burning stove.
Vidya, who sustained 100 per cent burn injuries, died four days later.
In her dying declarations, one to the special executive magistrate and the other to her husband and brother, Vidya had named Manjula and Godavari.
Manjula, however, claimed she had covered Vidya with a blanket and Godavari said she poured water on her, during which they sustained burn injuries.
“These injuries do not show any effort to extinguish the fire…” the Bombay High Court observed.