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Accused are entitled to a benefit of doubt in a criminal case: Bombay High Court

In any criminal case, the prosecution has to prove under the Indian Penal Code, that the accused are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, held, a bench of Justice VK Jadhav and Justice Shrikant Kulkarni, while adjudicating the matter in Shri Sharad Ashok Thange v. State of Maharashtra; [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.135 OF 2014].

On 16.9.2012 at about 3.00 a.m. PW 1-Raosaheb Kondiba Dukale-father of the deceased Kalindi has fled F.I.R at Shevgaon Police Station. It has been stated in the FIR that deceased Kalindi was given in marriage to appellant/accused no.1 Sharad Thange and marriage was performed on 29.1.2012. It has been alleged that Kalindi was treated well for a period of one month and, thereafter subjected to cruelty on account of the nonfulfllment of demand of Rs.50,000/- (Rs. Fifty Thousand) for purchasing a motorcycle. It has also alleged that on 13.9.2012 when the complainant has invited all the accused in his house for Dhonde Feast, appellant/accused no.1 Sharad has made a demand of one Tola Gold Ring, however, due to poor economic condition, complainant PW 1 Raosaheb could not fulfll the said demand. However, he has promised that when he will fetch good yield from his land, said ring will be given. All the accused left the house of the complainant alongwith Kalindi, however, while leaving the house deceased Kalindi was crying. On the very next day, i.e. on 15.9.2012 deceased Kalindi informed to her brother.

PW 3 Dada Dukle stated on phone that as golden ring was not given to her husband appellant/accused, he has severally assaulted her and subjected her to cruelty. On the same day, at about 3.00 p.m. Sarpanch of village Avane informed to PW 3 Dada Dukle on phone that his sister deceased Kalindi died due to burns in the house of the accused. Accordingly, PW 1 Raosaheb, his wife Prayagbai and other relatives rushed to the house of the accused at Barhanpur, Tq. Shevgaon, District Ahmednagar. They have found that deceased Kalindi was totally in burnt condition and her dead body was lying in the house of the accused. They have carried said dead body to the Civil Hospital, Shevgaon. PW 1 Raosaheb has expressed his suspicion that since demands of Rs.50,000/- for purchasing the motorcycle and one Tola gold ring were not satisfied, his daughter was subjected to cruelty on that count, and accordingly, deceased Kalindi had committed suicide by setting herself on fire.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts stated that; “There is no evidence that at the time of occurrence the appellant/accused no.1 Sharad Thange was present at home and he failed to protect/save the deceased from burning which caused her death. Further, deceased Kalindi died within eight months and some odd days after the marriage, which is very short period. The appellant/accused no.1 Sharad was 25 years of age at the time of the alleged incident. Thus, keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the present case, we are of the considered view that the ends of justice would be met by awarding him a sentence of 10 years of R.I. for the offence punishable under section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code.”

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