HC cites probe lapses, drops murder charge against man
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Lapses on the part of the prosecution in its investigation recently led to the dropping of murder charges by the Bombay High Court against a man who allegedly killed his wife.
According to the police, Vaishali Satpute committed suicide in February 2005. The police had initially registered a case of accidental death and later lodged a complaint filed by the victim's mother under Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertaining to cruelty by the husband or relatives of the husband and abetment to suicide. The police then filed a chargesheet in the case under these Sections before the sessions court.
However, the prosecution later recorded the statement of the doctor who conducted the post- mortem examination, who opined that the death was homicidal rather than suicidal. The trial court subsequently added the charge of murder against the husband Satish Satpute. The High Court, while setting aside the charge of murder by giving the accused benefit of doubt, noted that such an "alternate inconsistent charge" could not have been framed by the trial court. The court, however, held Satpute guilty of cruelty under Section 498A of the IPC and sentenced him to three years' rigorous imprisonment.
The Division Bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said in its order, "In our view, the sessions court should have permitted the investigating officer to carry out further investigation. Instead of doing that, the trial court proceeded with the trial and as a result no other witness could be examined by the prosecution to establish that the accused committed the said offence."
The court also noted that the investigating officer should not have proceeded without obtaining the opinion of the doctor regarding the cause of death. It also said one of the neighbours was said to have seen the victim but was not examined by the prosecution.
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