The Bombay High Court recently dismissed a criminal appeal filed by the State of Maharashtra against a judgment of the Additional Sessions judge in Sangli acquitting one Vijay Shinde and his parents who were booked under Sections 498A (cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.
Justice SV Kotwal upheld the acquittal of Vijay Shinde, his 71-year-old mother and his 86-year-old father and held that the prosecution had failed to prove a case of cruelty and abetment against them for the death of Shinde’s wife.
Shinde got married to his wife (now deceased) in July 1998. They have a daughter together. It was the case of the prosecution that the accused were ill-treating the deceased for not cooking properly and that Vijay had illicit relations with his sister-in-law (brother’s wife).
According to the prosecution, in June 2001, the deceased’s grandfather (Bhau Kale) and her cousin brother went to her matrimonial house and found that a quarrel was going on between the deceased and the accused. After trying to pacify both parties, both Bhau Kale and deceased’s cousin left the place.
Thereafter, the Bhau Kale was informed the same evening that his granddaughter had consumed poison. After she died, an FIR was lodged against the accused.
The court noted that postmortem notes indicated the deceased had died as a result of consuming poison. Examining the statements of all the witnesses, including deceased’s grandfather and her cousin, the court agreed with the trial court and said-
“The prosecution has not brought any evidence to show that there was any illicit relationship between the accused no.1 and his sister-in-law i.e. his brother's wife. The prosecution has not examined any other family member who could have thrown light on this aspect. In fact, these allegations do not travel beyond the realm of suspicion and therefore, none of the accused can be held responsible for the same.“
The court further pointed to Bhau Kale’s statement:
“As far as the allegations of ill-treatment on the ground of not cooking properly and not doing household work are concerned, PW 1 himself has deposed that he had told the deceased to do the household work properly. Telling the deceased to cook properly or to do her household work properly, by itself, would not mean that she was ill-treated. There is no further evidence to show that the treatment was of such a nature which would fall under Section 498A or Section 306 of the IPC.
More significantly, PW1 has clearly admitted that in the past, all the accused and one Pundalik Patil had told him about Nanda's eccentric behaviour and also of her consuming liquor. The accused had even requested him to intervene and to have a discussion with Nanda regarding the same. This admission goes a long way to show that there were possible causes for her to consume poison.”
Thus, the appeal was dismissed.