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Vismaya dowry death: 10-year jail for dismissed Kerala govt staffer for driving wife to kill self

Vismaya’s family said they would move an appeal, seeking life imprisonment for the convict, Kiran Kumar

Vismaya V Nair, an ayurvedic medical student, was found dead in Kollam on June 21, 2021. (PTI)

An additional sessions court in Kollam on Tuesday sentenced a dismissed state government employee to 25-year (concurrent) rigorous imprisonment and fined him Rs 12.55 lakh for driving his wife to die by suicide last year by harassing her over dowry.

Kumar was sentenced to 10-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) under IPC Sections 304-B (dowry death), six-year RI under 306 (abetment to suicide), two-year RI under 498-A (wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive woman to commit suicide), six-year RI under Section 3 of Dowry Prohibition Act, and one-year RI under Section 4 of the same law.

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The court said the sentences will run concurrently.

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Judge K N Sujith had on Monday found S Kiran Kumar, who was an assistant motor vehicle inspector with the state Motor Vehicle Department, guilty of the dowry death of his wife, Vismaya V Nair, an Ayurvedic medical student.

Of the amount fined, Rs 10 lakh was imposed under Section 3 of Dowry Prohibition Act, and from the fine realised from him, Rs 2 lakh each should be paid to the victim’s parents, the court ordered.

Vismaya was found dead at Kumar’s house in Kollam under mysterious circumstances on June 21, 2021. Kumar was subsequently dismissed from service.

The couple got married in May 2020 and Kumar was allegedly unhappy with the dowry Vismaya brought along — this included a new car that cost Rs 11 lakh, 1.25 acres of land, and 100 sovereigns of gold. Kumar thereafter began harassing Vismaya, according to the prosecution.

The case led to a campaign against dowry and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan held a day-long fast at Raj Bhavan as part of it. Khan instructed universities in the state to ask students to give an undertaking that they would not seek or give dowry. He suggested that the university concerned should cancel their degrees if any student was later found violating this and got indicted by a court.

In his order, Judge Sujith said, “Kumar nurtured a false hope that, being a government servant, he is enormously privileged to get a sizeable amount as dowry. However, to his dismay, Vismaya failed to bring forth the dowry he expected and (in) his exasperation even blurted (this) out on eve of his marriage.”

Recalling an incident of harassment, the court said the accused hurled abusive words at Vismaya’s parents, telling his parents-in-law that “no one should feel comfort after burdening him with a ‘scrap car’ and a ‘waste female’ and the future course will be decided only after exchange of assets promised”.

The court said this is not a case in which the benevolent provisions of ‘probation of offenders Act’ can be invoked. Exception can be attributed to the fact that the accused had perpetrated dowry-related cruelties on his wife and thereby driven her to die by suicide.

“Vismaya might have entered into family life with good hope and great expectations,” the court said, “but the menace of dowry dashed all her aspirations. Wife is not a chattel in the hands of the husband. She has her own dignity and individuality. Reputation is the most precious perfume of the life of an individual. When dignity is lost, the breath of life gets into oblivion…. She thought (that) through her matrimony, she may not get a bright future, but she was forced to swallow the bitter pill. Ultimately, she embraced the decision of ending her life.”

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