Fourteen years after he fired six bullets at his elder sister over a property dispute, the Bombay high court on Monday convicted Lalit D’souza, son of late hotelier Timothy D’souza, for attempt to murder and sentenced the 51-year-old to ten years imprisonment.
The division bench of justice Prasanna Varale and justice NR Borkar also fined him ₹1 lakh, half of which will be paid as compensation to his sister, Lorna. The bench has directed Lalit to surrender in four weeks, failing which a non-bailable warrant will be issued against him.
As per the prosecution’s case, Lalit abused and shot at Lorna six times in the early hours of October 28, 2007, when she objected to his friend’s car being parked in her parking slot at a Cuff Parade residential apartments, where the siblings lived together amid strain caused by a property dispute. Lorna received injuries in her chest and hand but survived. Lorna told police that Lalit continued to pull the trigger even after exhausting all the bullets in his gun. The incident had taken place in the parking lot of the building.
Lalit was prosecuted for attempted murder but the trial court convicted him only for causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapon and sentenced him to three years imprisonment on February 1, 2012, while giving him bail after the verdict.
Lalit then moved HC challenging his conviction, while the state and Lorna filed separate appeals challenging his acquittal on the charge of attempt to murder and pleading for enhancement of his sentence.
Lalit told the high court that he shot at Lorna in self defence after she charged at him with an iron rod. He claimed that he was living under fear since Lorna had threatened to get him killed using names of different gangsters. It was also argued on his behalf that the attack was not premeditated and therefore the charge of attempt to murder did not apply.
Assistant public prosecutor Geeta Mulekar, however, pointed out that Lalit had acted in cruel manner and the very fact that he fired six bullets at the unarmed victim indicated he wanted to kill her.
The court accepted her argument and said, “The accused had fired six gun shots at PW 1 (Lorna) who was unarmed and thus acted in cruel and unusual manner. …the accused is, thus, not entitled to benefit of exception 4 to Section 300 of the IPC.”
HC held that the trial court had “ignored the well settled legal position that determinative factor for constituting offence punishable under section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder) is intention and not injury.”
“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we have not the slightest doubt in our minds that the intention of the accused was to kill PW 1,” said the bench.