Of mobike, murder & evidential logic
IRON CUTS iron. So is with wits. A lawyer’s wits holds sway till it gets chopped up by a judge’s wits. This came in sharp focus as evidential logic surfaced at the Allahabad High Court early July in the case of Girish Kumari .
She was married to Rakesh of Moradabad in February 2002. Two children were born. The husband put money in Sahara India in wife’s name. He also insured her with the LIC. On her death, he was to get the money.
The ugly side began to unfold sometime after marriage. A weeping Girish Kumari would often tell her father how her husband and his parents had first mounted pressures on her and then were torturing her for additional dowry —a Pulsar mobike plus Rs. 50,000.
At about 8.30 in the night of April 2, 2006, she, in acute agony, dashed out from her in-laws’ place to a PCO nearby, rang up her father, who stayed in Noorpur, and cried out how her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law had turned dangerously violent on her.
When her nervous father reached her in-laws’ place the same night, neighbours told him that after subjecting her to burning, she had been taken to the district hospital. She was, however, referred to a Delhi hospital. By then the cruel drama had almost climaxed.
As revealed later, she was admitted to Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi on April 3 at 9.15 am, where it was recorded that her body had ‘the smell of kerosene’, and that she had suffered 90-95 per cent injuries, mainly on her ‘upper’ limbs. In her dying declaration before a magistrate at 10.45 am the same day, she was recorded to have said that “she had become a victim of accidental fire from a ‘diya’ (earthen lamp) kept in her ‘puja’ room, and her husband had rushed to save her”.
Finally, she succumbed to her injuries on April 8. The same day, her husband had himself medically examined, which revealed he had suffered superficial to deep injuries on the fingers of his right and left hand.
The husband, the father-in-law and the mother-in-law were all nabbed for dowry killing, and while the husband cooled his heels in the jail, his father, Vijay Pal Singh, and mother, Vimla Devi, attempted to win freedom on bail, citing their old age, besides these pleas: firstly, the deceased’s dying declaration had clearly pinpointed the ‘diya’ as the cause of burning; and secondly, she also said how her husband had tried to save her, something clear from the burn injuries the husband had also suffered, and so, it could not be a case of dowry killing.
However, Justice RK Rastogi of the Allahabad High Court, who heard the bail plea, was not impressed.
His reasoning was: the deceased’s dying declaration did not ‘prima facie’ seem genuine; it had been recorded before her parents arrived at the hospital; she never regained consciousness during the six days she had been in the hospital; and, importantly, it was improbable that the deceased with 90-95 per cent burn injuries on her ‘upper’ limbs, including her scalp, face, eyes, neck and chest, could give her dying declaration just after her admission to the hospital in Delhi.
Next, an accidental fire from a ‘diya’ would have caused dense injuries first on her ‘lower’ limbs and then on ‘upper’ limbs. Here, it was just the opposite.
resence of the smell of kerosene on her body when she was admitted to the hospital in Delhi indicated she had been burnt after pouring kerosene on her ‘head’, which could not have been so if she had become a victim of ‘accidental’ fire caused by the ‘diya’.
Further, the incident took place on April 2, but the husband had his burn injuries examined as late as on April 8, and the report revealed that the injuries were about 10 days old. It was not clear as to why he did not have himself examined earlier, said the judge.
At the end, bail was refused by Justice Rastogi in the first week of July. Meanwhile, the son, father and mother can draw solace at least from sharing each other’s woes in the prison cell.