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Court, however, confirmed his conviction under Section 498A of the IPC for committing cruelty with the deceased for dowry but modified sentence of two years to the period of seven months, already undergone by him
The Supreme Court has recently acquitted a man of the charge of abetment to suicide of his wife as it found no proximate link between the marital discord and her subsequent death by burning herself.
A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal found that the appellant Kamalakar had not committed any positive act or direct act to instigate or aid in the commission of suicide by the deceased.
The court, however, confirmed his conviction under Section 498A of the IPC for committing cruelty with the deceased for dowry but modified sentence of two years to the period of seven months, already undergone by him.
On September 4, 1994, the deceased set herself ablaze at her parental home and died two days later. An FIR was lodged by her father, alleging that the accused and his parents used to ill-treat and assault the victim for not delivering the child after two years of marriage. A week before the incident, it was alleged the accused husband took her to Mumbai and assaulted her and then brought her back to her parents home.
On a request to take her back, the accused allegedly said that his parents were going to remarry him as they were not happy with the conduct of the deceased.
In 2001, the trial court acquitted the accused husband's parents due to lack of evidence. It, however, convicted him and sentenced him to seven years jail term.
On appeal, the Karnataka High Court reduced the sentence from seven to five years imprisonment.
Before the top court, the accused husband contended thay there was no occasion to abetment as the victim was residing at her parents home for the two months. He also contended that there was no substantial proofs as his parents were acquitted on the basis of same evidence which was relied upon to convict him.
The court, however, said that in the instant case, the death of the deceased had taken place within seven years of her marriage and as such, there will be a presumption as to harassment meted out to the deceased.
"Even though it is rebuttable presumption, the appellant has not provided substantial evidence in his favour. It is an undisputed fact that the appellant took the deceased to Bombay for approximately a week from her parents' residence. Shortly after their return, she was left at her parents' home again, and she took her own life a few days later," the bench said.
In so far as the accused husband’s argument of parity with the acquittal of his parents was concerned, the same cannot be granted to the appellant, the bench added.
"However, there is a specific overt act attributable to the appellant wherein he assaulted and ill-treated the deceased on the ground that she was not doing household work properly and that he also refused to take her back with him to their matrimonial house despite repeated requests made by the deceased’s parents," the court said, upholding his conviction under Section 498A of the IPC.
But after going through the ingredients of Section 306 IPC, the court said that those had not been fulfilled in the case at hand, so the conviction of the appellant under Section 306 IPC coukd not be sustained.
"On a careful reading of the factual matrix of the instant case and the law regarding Section 306 IPC, there seems to be no proximate link between the marital discord between the deceased and the appellant and her subsequent death by burning herself. The appellant has not committed any positive or direct act to instigate or aid in the commission of suicide by the deceased," the court said.
Case Title: Kamalakar Vs State of Karnataka
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