The Delhi High Court has set aside the seven-year sentence handed down to three brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law of a woman who had committed suicide in November 1995, observing that a tendency has developed in recent times “to rope in” all in-laws in dowry related cases.
Justice Pratibha Rani made the observation while hearing the appeals of the four, who were sentenced for the offence of dowry death under section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, after the woman committed suicide six months after her marriage.
The prosecution has failed to prove that the woman was harassed by them for dowry, the high court said, while setting aside their conviction and sentence.
“Recently a tendency has developed for roping in all the relations of the in-laws as accused persons and this appears to be the case here too.
“The prosecution has failed to prove either any dowry demand by the appellants or the deceased being harassed by the appellants in connection with any such dowry demand so as to prove that it was a case of dowry death. In view of above discussion, the appeal succeeds. The appellants are acquitted of all the charges,” it said.
The high court noted that while the woman’s family had levelled the allegation of dowry demand against the in-laws, during cross examination they had said no such demands were made.
It also observed that the “temperament” of the woman was such that when she was at her parental home, just after about two months of her marriage, she tried to commit suicide by consuming some harmful tablets after a fight with her brother.
The high court said it could not have been a case of dowry death by taking into account various factors, including the husband’s love for her, the appellant in-laws residing separately, the marriage being held without any dowry demand as well as the financial disparity between the two families.
It said the husband’s family was much better off than that of the woman and added that all these aspects were not considered by the trial court while convicting the appellants by its order of March 2002.
“The trial court has convicted all the appellants on the basis of conjectures and implications which could not have been done as there was neither any proof of dowry demand nor harassment of deceased by the appellants on account of any such dowry demand,” the high court said.