26 Jun 2023 6:23 AM GMT
Observing that a woman's suicide in matrimonial home in itself does not make her in-laws and husband liable for harassment and abetment to commit suicide, the Punjab & Haryana High Court has upheld the acquittal of accused in a 2002 abetment to suicide case.The deceased died by suicide in 2002 in her matrimonial home allegedly due to harassment made on account of a dowry demand. The...
Observing that a woman's suicide in matrimonial home in itself does not make her in-laws and husband liable for harassment and abetment to commit suicide, the Punjab & Haryana High Court has upheld the acquittal of accused in a 2002 abetment to suicide case.
The deceased died by suicide in 2002 in her matrimonial home allegedly due to harassment made on account of a dowry demand. The accused, who were booked on the complaint made by the woman's father, were acquitted by trial court in 2006.
“The act of the accused, however, insulting the deceased by using abusive language or maltreatment will not, by itself, constitute the abetment of suicide. The prosecution is obliged to prove and lead sufficient evidence capable of suggesting that the accused intended by such act to instigate the deceased to commit suicide," said Justice N.S.Shekhawat.
“...there was no concrete or conclusive evidence against her in-laws and her husband to prove their complicity in the commission of the crime. In fact, the abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing,” the court added.
Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, the conviction cannot be sustained, the court said, adding that the mens rea to commit the offence is a sine qua non to convict a person under Section 306 IPC.
The court was hearing the appeal filed by the State against the acquittal of the in-laws and husband by the trial Court, who were accused of abetment to suicide under Section 306/34 of IPC of the deceased wife.
According to the prosecution, the husband of the deceased used to demand dowry from her and would threaten to beat her if the demanded money was not paid. Approximately one week before her death, it was alleged that when the family of the deceased visited her, she informed them that her husband's family members were harassing her.
They had demanded Rs. 3 lakhs for setting up a fake drugs factory, and her husband had threatened that if the money was not paid within four days, they would end her life, the prosecution alleged.
The prosecution argued that the accused were wrongly acquitted by the trial court and it had “failed to apply its judicious mind.”
Justice Shekhawat noted that the father of the deceased had admitted that during the 18 years of subsistence of her marriage, no complaint or application alleging maltreatment or misbehavior by her husband was made by the deceased.
“He (father of the deceased) had never gone to the police complaining about demand of car by respondent No. 1 ( husband of the deceased). He could not give the exact date of coming of the accused to his house in order to make any demand against which he was aggrieved. Even he admitted the deceased had left behind two children, who were growing up well in the matrimonial home. He further admitted that no dowry demand was made by the respondents/accused at the time of marriage,” observed the court.
The court said the prosecution witnesses had levelled vague and general allegations against the respondents and could not withstand the test of cross-examination.
“Even, simply because of the fact that the wife (deceased) committed suicide in matrimonial home, itself does not make her in-laws and husband liable for harassment and abetment to commit suicide,” it opined.
Title:State of Haryana v. Darshan Lal and another
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 117
Appearance: Sheenu Sura, DAG, Haryana.
Advocates S.P. Arora, with Himmat Singh Sidhu, for the respondent.
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