Mere dowry charge can’t nail man for wife’s suicide: HC
MUMBAI: Mere allegation of dowry harassment cannot nail a man for his wife's suicide, the Bombay high court has ruled.
Fifteen years after Abdul Aziz (then 22) and four members of his family were arrested for allegedly driving his young wife, Shaheen, to death, Justice S S Shinde recently acquitted them of the charge, by giving them "the benefit of the doubt" . The court said there was no evidence that Aziz or his family members—his mother, two brothers and a sisterin-law—instigated or left Shaheen with no other option but to commit suicide within four months of marriage. After Shaheen's death in 1996, her father had alleged that her in-laws ill-treated her and demanded money.
"Nothing has been brought on record to show that before the suicide , there was any direct or indirect act of incitement by the accused ," said the judge. The court referred to Supreme Court judgments to point out that to penalize someone under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (abetment to suicide), it was necessary to show that cruelty meted out to a victim had induced her to end her life. . "There should be intention to provoke , incite or encourage the committing of an act by the accused. In order to find out if the cruelty and harassment meted out to the victim had left her with no other alternative but to put an end to her life, there should be convincing, clinching and cogent evidence on record ," said the judge. "Unless there is a proof of direct or indirect act of incitement to the commission of suicide, conviction is not sustainable merely on the allegations of harassment without there being any positive action proximate to the time of occurrence (of the incident) on the part of the accused which led or compelled the person to commit suicide."
The court said except for allegations that Aziz and his family had demanded Rs 2,000 twice and Rs 25,000 once, there were no specific role attributing to the accused in Shaheen's suicide.
Shaheen and Aziz were married in April 1996. In August, she was found on flames in her bedroom and subsequently died of 100 % burn injuries. The police initially booked Aziz and his family for culpable homicide.
The Nanded sessions court in 1999 dropped the culpable homicide charges, but convicted them for abetting Shaheen's suicide, sentencing them to imprisonment for one year to five years