Relying on circumstantial evidence, the Bombay High Court has upheld the life sentence awarded to a 26-year-old man for killing his pregnant wife.
Laxman Dhotre was sentenced to life imprisonment by Nanded sessions court on the charges of killing his wife, Chanda, who was carrying his child. He was also awarded seven years' jail term for killing the unborn child.
The division bench of Justices K U Chandiwal and V M Deshpande dismissed his appeal last week. Dhotre worked at Umri Bazaar village in Nanded. After the marriage, he and his wife shifted to Hyderabad in 2009.
According to the prosecution, he was an alcoholic, and often quarrelled with his wife. After Chanda became pregnant, the couple returned to Nanded. However, Dhotre, when drunk, beat his wife sometimes despite her condition.
On January 10, 2010, Chanda was found dead in the house. There were injuries on her body.
Dhotre was arrested and put on trial. His lawyers argued that he had gone to Hyderabad when Chanda died. But the High Court noted that no evidence was produced in this regard.
Public prosecutor G K Naik-Thigale pointed out that a witness had seen Laxman passing down a road in Umri Bazaar on the night of Chanda's death.
His lawyer, Advocate D Y Nandedkar, also argued that the trial was vitiated because the charges had not been framed properly. But the High Court said this too was never proved, and even if some defect in framing was assumed, it was not proved how it caused any prejudice to the accused.
Court also pointed out that liquor bottles were recovered from the house "from which we can safely draw an inference that the appellant must have consumed the liquor".
Moreover, the court said that although what happened on that night could be known only to Dhotre, the victim, being his wife was in his "custody". As per the Evidence Act, he was required to "give plausible explanation in respect of the injuries found on her body". No such explanation was given, the HC noted, upholding the sentence.