On January 19, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted a man under IPC Section 306 and 498A stating ‘demanding money is a vague term’. The bench was hearing an abetment to suicide case where a husband was charged under the relevant sections.
The couple got married in 1995 and on November 12, 2004, the wife died by suicide. Thereafter, the deceased’s father filed a police complaint against husband (Prashant), informing them that his daughter was harassed by the husband and in-laws since a few years for not ‘bringing money’. The complaint was registered at Darwha police station.
Thereafter, on April 2, 2008, the Yavatmal sessions court sentenced Prashant under:
- Section 306 for abetment to suicide
- Section 498A for cruelty towards wife read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code
The man challenged the orders at High Court.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala went through the evidence on record and pointed out how there was absolutely no material which could be pointed out by prosecution with regard to instigation by him to wife to commit suicide. She noted,
Considering the conduct and nature of allegations against the petitioner and the fact that the similarly situated co-accused was acquitted of harassment charges under Section 498-A, in HC’s opinion, he also deserves to be acquitted.
The court also heard the testimony of the accused’s minor daughter where she stated that of being present in the house at the time of the incident. The daughter claimed that her father had beaten her mother and also forced her to consume poison.
Despite this the court noted,
However, the prosecution, surprisingly, registered the case as suicide. The general allegations of harassment aren’t sufficient to rope in the petitioner for offence of abetment to suicide.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala added,
The evidence is with regard to quarrel between husband and wife where he used to beat her for money. The demand of money is a vague term and in absence of other particulars to establish the link, the offence of harassment, as contemplated under Section 498-A of the IPC, isn’t made out.
The Judge also analysed the husband’s conduct and inferred that he was more interested in the wife’s company than her elimination. The bench added,
From time to time, he brought her from her father’s place (after their fights) and also issued notices for restitution of conjugal rights. Moreover, he took her to hospital and refused to giver her body to her father for the funeral. He himself performed it at his place.