The Supreme Court upheld conviction of a man accused of dowry death, relying on the evidence of his deceased wife's parents and relatives.
In this case (Mahadevappa vs. State of Karnataka), the prosecution had alleged that, the accused poured kerosene oil on his wife Rukmini Bai when she was in kitchen and set her on fire. The Trial Court had acquitted him holding that the prosecution was not able to prove the charge of demand of dowry against him. It had also held that there is no proof that she suffered homicidal death. The High Court, on state's appeal, reversed these findings and convicted the accused. The accused challenged the conviction before the Apex court.
The parents of the girl, and two close relatives deposed as prosecution witnesses and had stated before the trial court that the accused was addicted to consuming liquor and used to demand money from the deceased and her parents quite often. They also deposed that he used to ill-treat and assault his wife many a times and it started soon after the marriage which continued till her death.
The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra observed that it could see no contradiction on any of the material issues in the evidence of these four witnesses despite they being subjected to lengthy cross-examination by the defense.
The bench said: "There is no reason to discard the evidence of the father and mother of the deceased who are the most natural and material witnesses to speak on such issues. Indeed, in such circumstances, the daughter - a newly married girl would always like to first disclose her domestic problems to her mother and father and then to her close relatives because they have access to her and are always helpful in solving her problems."
It further added: "Why should a mother and a father speak lie unless there are justifiable reasons behind it. We do not find any such reason in this case. Not only that, even their relatives supported their version."
The bench also upheld the High Court finding that this was a case of homicidal death and not a case of accidental death.