SC upholds life imprisonment to woman for killing her 5-year-old child


New Delhi: The Supreme Court has upheld the life term sentence handed down to a woman from Tamil Nadu for murdering her five-year-old female child, as she was forced to live with her mother-in-law at the matrimonial home for better education and upbringing of the kid.

A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Bela M. Trivedi said: “In an overall comprehension of the material on record and the findings recorded by the trial court and the high court, in our view, no case for interference with the concurrent findings of fact is made out.”

The bench noted that the case was based on circumstantial evidence and even though the prosecution story presented a somewhat difficult proposition, it cannot be ruled out.

In a 43-page judgment, the bench said: “In the facts of the present case, when the prosecution evidence categorically established the fact that the victim child was last seen alive with the appellant only; she was required to explain the circumstances leading to the demise of the child.”

“Upon her failure to do so and failure to give the explanation with regard to the circumstances under which death may have taken place, burden of Section 106 of the Evidence Act operates heavily against the appellant.”

The woman was convicted for the murder of her five-year-old child in the house of her mother-in-law at Perambalur in the morning of June 21, 2007. According to the prosecution case, the appellant’s husband was living abroad for earning livelihood and the appellant was mostly living with her father at Kolakkudi. However, on being forced to live with her mother-in-law for the purpose of upbringing and education of the child, she found the child to be an obstacle in her desire to live separately and hence, strangulated the child to death when her mother-in-law had gone out of the house.

The woman’s counsel argued that the case does not fall under Section 302 IPC, but could only be of culpable homicide not amounting to murder as there was a quarrel between the accused and mother-in-law on the date of the incident because she wanted to go to her father’s place.

To this, the bench said: “Even if it be taken that there was a quarrel of the appellant with her mother-in-law in the morning of the date of incident because the appellant wanted to go the place of her father, it cannot be said that such a quarrel would make it a case of grave and sudden provocation.”

It noted that the circumstances as proved on record, and the manner of commission of crime, make it clear that the present case cannot be brought under any of the exceptions of Section 300 IPC; and conviction and sentencing of the appellant under Section 302 IPC cannot be faulted.

Vahitha was convicted of the offence of murder of her five-year-old child and according to the prosecution case, her husband was living abroad for earning livelihood and the appellant was mostly living with her father, Jamal Mohammed at Kolakkudi.

The trial court had relied upon the last seen evidence and convicted her, disregarding her plea for alibi that she was at her father’s place at Kolakkudi.

Vahitha moved the apex court challenging Madras High Court judgment, which dismissed her appeal against the judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed on October 15, 2009.

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( With inputs from )

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