The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kerosene splash not proof of murder bid

Only sprinkling kerosene on the wifeís body does not prove an attempt to murder by the husband. Not till he tries to set her alight. The law will not take cognisance of an attempt to murder till there is direct evidence that the husband has attempted to set ablaze the body soaked in kerosene.

Calcutta High Court criminal lawyer Asim Roy on Friday moved a bail petition before the division bench of Justice N.A. Chowdhury and Justice A. Barua, and argued on the basis of this loophole in the law. He succeeded in obtaining a release order for client Pronab Das, in jail for the past 47 days.

According to the prosecution, Pronab Das, of Ukil Patti, in Bolpur, Birbhum district, married Tumpa but their wedded life was not happy. They would quarrel every day and neighbours would have to pacify them. On April 19, the quarrel turned serious, and Pronab allegedly poured kerosene on Tumpa. Hearing her cries, the neighbours rushed in to rescue her.

Eight days after the incident, Tumpa lodged a complaint against her husband, alleging that he had sought to kill her by setting her ablaze. Accordingly, the case was registered under Section 498 A of the IPC and Pronab was arrested the next day.

He prayed for bail twice but the district court turned down his plea. Pronab then moved Calcutta High Court and his bail plea came up for hearing on Friday.

The government counsel opposed the prayer and said that a case under Section 498A was a non-bailable offence. If the accused was released, police investigation would be hampered, he contended.

Pronabís lawyer told the court that there were four reasons for his client to get the bail. First, there were no witnesses to Pronab sprinkling kerosene on his wife. Second, the neighbours never said they had seen Pronab try to set his wife ablaze. Third, Tumpa took eight days to decide about lodging the complaint. The lawyer told the court that until there was clear evidence that Pronab wanted to kill his wife, it would be wrong to keep him behind bars. The judges accepted the argument and granted bail to Pronab.

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