"In spite of stringent provisions of law and deterrent steps taken, we find that incidents of violence against women could not be curbed," a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and A V Nirgude said in a recent order.
"Considering the matter in its entirety, we are of the view that no fault can be found with the decision taken by the State (in placing the convict in category 2(c) of guidelines relating to crimes against women issued on March 15, 2010, for premature release of convicts)," the judges noted.
"The petitioner (convicted for setting wife on fire and causing her death) has committed a heinous crime, which is required to be condemned.
It is an offence against society at large. As there is no merit in the petition, it is dismissed." Petitioner Bharat Ingle had challenged an order of the Home Department of October 2012 in which he was placed in category 2(c) of the guidelines issued under a Government Resolution of March 15, 2010.
Under this category, he was to undergo 26 years of imprisonment. The petitioner contended that he should be placed in category 1(c) of the old guidelines of the year 1992 which prescribes a jail term of 24 years.
Considering the facts of the case and evidence brought on record, it is clear Ingle did not commit the offence with premeditation, his counsel V M Lomte said.
"There was no prior preparation for commission of the offence. In a moment of sudden fight between husband and wife, Ingle poured kerosene on his wife and torched her in an outburst of anger," he said.
The lawyer said his client had so far spent more than 14 years in jail and was entitled to premature release if remission (reduction of sentence) was considered.
He said a proposal had been forwarded to the State in this regard. Under the rules, a convict, after spending 14 years in jail, is categorised by the State for considering premature release and is entitled to remission benefit.
Additional government pleader A V Gondhalekar said the convict had committed a serious crime.
The petitioner had used an axe and vented his anger by striking it on a wooden cot.
Thereafter, while the wife was sleeping, the petitioner poured kerosene and set her afire, he said.
"This was a serious crime and the State was justified in placing him in category 2(c) of 2010 guidelines...," Gondhalekar maintained.
The judges noted that burn injuries sustained by the victim was enough to cause death.
The petitioner's conduct prior to the incident was worth noticing. The petitioner had taken a plea of alibi (that he was present elsewhere at the time of crime), which he could not establish.
Moreover, the dying declaration of the deceased was recorded in which she blamed Ingle for causing her burn injuries, the judges noted.
Perusal of 1992 guidelines show that under category 1(c), if crime is committed against aggrieved person without premeditation, the convict could be released after 24 years.
Whereas under the same category in clause (e), where the crime is committed with exceptional violence or with perversity, the period of sentence would be 28 years, they said.
On the other hand, category 2(c) framed under Government Resolution of March 15, 2010, refers to crime committed with exceptional violence and/or with brutality or death of victim due to burns, for which 26 years sentence is prescribed. In both these classes of categories, exceptional violence is referred.
Considering the facts of the case and the evidence brought on record, we are of view that the decision by the State in placing the petitioner in category 2(c) of the guidelines would be appropriate, the bench remarked.