Usual acts of taunting in family not cruelty, says Delhi court; acquits husband, in-laws in dowry case | The Financial Express

Usual acts of taunting in family not cruelty, says Delhi court; acquits husband, in-laws in dowry case

Additional Sessions Judge Neeraj Gaur said the prosecution failed to prove the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment soon before her death or any demand for dowry. “

Usual acts of taunting in family not cruelty, says Delhi court; acquits husband, in-laws in dowry case
The court was hearing a case where a woman had ended her life by hanging within 15 months of marriage.

Usual acts of taunting in a family do not amount to cruelty, a Delhi court has ruled, while acquitting a man and his parents in a dowry death case where they were accused of subjecting the victim to cruelty that prompted her to die by suicide. A court here has acquitted a man and his parents in a case of allegedly subjecting his wife to cruelty and abetment of her suicide over dowry demand, saying “the usual acts of taunting within the fabric of a family do not become cruelty.” The court said it could not be proved that the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment, as the evidence on record were highly insufficient to show the accused instigated or intentionally aided the act of suicide.

The court was hearing a case where a woman had ended her life by hanging within 15 months of marriage. The deceased’s parents had alleged the husband and her parents-in-law used to harass their daughter for dowry. The husband was also charged with abetment of suicide. Additional Sessions Judge Neeraj Gaur said the prosecution failed to prove the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment soon before her death or any demand for dowry. “From the evidence proved on record, it cannot be gathered that the deceased was subjected to any cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A of the IPC,” the judge said in an order dated August 27.

The court added, “The usual acts of taunting within the fabric of a family do not become cruelty, and cruelty, under Section 498-A of the IPC means harassment with a view to coerce the woman or her parents to meet any unlawful demand for property, or on account of failure to fulfil such demand, a willful conduct so as to drive a woman to commit suicide.” The testimony of the deceased’s mother did not suggest that there was any cruelty beyond taunting the deceased, the court said, adding the alleged acts of taunting also fell short of a wilful conduct of a nature as is likely to drive the deceased to suicide.

The court noted while the testimony of the deceased’s mother was “shaky as she has contradicted herself on many facts”, that of her father was “also not very reliable as the source of every information to him was indirect as the deceased used to talk to her mother”. Noting that on one occasion the deceased’s father had deposited Rs 20,000 in the bank account of his son-in-law for medical treatment of his daughter, the court said, “A voluntary payment made by a father to his married daughter cannot be termed as a payment in fulfilment of a dowry demand.” The court also said the diary of the deceased submitted as evidence showed she was “disturbed by mistrust” allegedly on the day of her death, but did not “expressly mention” the accused husband.

It can be gathered that the deceased was emotionally hurt, but criminal liability can be imposed on a person only with the support of concrete evidence and not by conjectures and surmises, the court said. It noted that from the contents of the diary of the deceased, the accused husband cannot be fastened with the criminal liability of abetment of suicide by the deceased. Also, as per the deposition of the Senior Scientific Officer concerned, no definite opinion could be given on the handwriting in the questioned diary with the admitted handwriting of the deceased, the court said. The deceased Mamta had married Mahender on May 31, 2015 and ended her life by hanging on August 9, 2016.Aman Vihar police station had registered an FIR against Mahender and father-in-law Kanwar Singh. On completion of the investigation, Mahender and Kanwar Singh were initially charge-sheeted. The victim’s mother-in-law Khimuli Devi was sent up for trial by way of a supplementary charge sheet. 

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