Chennai: The mother of a 5-year-old daughter has been acquitted of the charge of murdering her 5-year-old daughter by giving food mixed with pesticide in Erode district on July 8, 2015. The high court set aside the order of a lower court which had convicted and sentenced her to life imprisonment.
Allowing an appeal from V.Shobana, a division bench comprising Justices S.Nagamuthu and N.Authinathan said, "Had the poison been mixed with food, as it is stated by the prosecution, the smell of Organophosphorous poison would have emanated which would not have missed the nose of the prosecution witnesses and the undigested food should have been present in the stomach. We find absolutely there is no convincing evidence to hold that it is this accused, who killed the girl".
Pulling up the Fast Track / Mahila court in Erode for not offering legal assistance to the accused, the bench said, "The trial court, in our considered view, did not afford sufficient opportunity and legal assistance to the accused.
We regret to say that the trial court in the instant case has not even cared to have regard that the accused has got a right to be defended by a competent lawyer. There is no indication that the judge offered any legal assistance through legal aid to the accused, who is a poor woman.
The trial court judge also refused to give time to the prosecution and defence to argue the case and pronounced the judgment. This act of the judge in blindly rushing to finish the case is really unwarranted and unfortunate".
According to the prosecution, due to frequent quarrels with her husband, Shobana had started living with her parents in Nambiyur village in Erode district with her daughter. On July 8, 2015 she allegedly gave food mixed with pesticide to her daughter.
Soon the child fainted and with the help of her brother and neighbour, Shobana took her child to a private hospital where she was declared dead. A case was registered and the Mahila Court in Erode had on May 6, 2016 convicted and sentenced her to undergo life imprisonment.
Pulling up the counsel engaged by the accused for his failure to appear before the court, the bench said, "The said counsel, it appears did not have any concern for the ethics and best practices of the legal profession.
The counsel had forgotten his duty to appear before the court when the case was called and to conduct the case after getting instructions from the client. But such gross negligence and dereliction of duty on the part of the counsel cannot go to deprive the right of the accused to have legal assistance and to have effective defence. Though the said advocate did not appear until May 4, 2016 there is no indication that the judge offered any legal assistance through legal aid to the accused. On May 5, 2016, the new counsel engaged by the accused filed a petition to recall all the witnesses, which was summarily rejected by the judge.
The trial court judge who found the accused allegedly involved in serious offences should be more sensitive to afford a fair trial to the accused"....