Almost 10 years after his wife died by suicide, a Delhi court acquitted a doctor charged with death due to dowry demands, and cruelty. “In view of the material inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses and due to the lack of cogent evidence…this court is of the view that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Pahuja of Saket Court while acquitting the accused on September 27.
The father of the deceased had alleged that from day one of her marriage, his daughter was being harassed for “bringing insufficient dowry”. He further alleged that the groom’s mother and sister also demanded dowry from him. He also said that his son-in-law had prevented his daughter from appearing for an exam.
The Additional Public Prosecutor for the State argued that the prosecution witnesses had proved a case of offences under section 498A/304A/306 IPC beyond doubt. The counsels of the accused, on the other hand, argued that the woman was “not over her previous relationship”, adding she was facing issues with impulsivity, adding she had been prescribed medication by a psychiatrist for the same.
According to the court, to prove the offences, the prosecution was required to establish that the woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment in relation to the demand for dowry by the husband or his family. It further had to prove that the death occurred due to unnatural circumstances within seven years of marriage. While the prosecution was able to prove the latter, the former couldn’t be proven, according to the court.
Relying on photographs of a Holi celebration in 2012, the court said the woman looked happy in the photos, which “contradicted the statement” of a witness. “If the deceased was under stress and was subjected to harassment, it would not have been possible to portray or even pretend happy face by the deceased in aforesaid photographs. The photographs depict the natural emotions of the deceased and the circumstances surrounding the same also show that everyone in the photos was in a jolly mood,” noted ASJ Pahuja.
It was noted by the Court that the statements of many witnesses contained material improvements and discrepancies. It further observed that no police complaint was filed by the family of the deceased alleging harassment against the accused. ASJ Pahuja also pointed out lack of medical evidence which could suggest that the deceased was taken to the hospital for the beatings allegedly meted out to her.