Judge acquits husband, in-laws in woman’s death case for lack of evidence
While acquitting the husband and in-laws accused of the death of a school teacher, within four months of marriage, for lack of evidence, a court here has faulted the parents of such victims for not standing by them when they were alive and not reporting dowry harassment to the police, relatives and friends before it was too late.
Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said: “Numerous legislation have been brought in to tackle dowry, harassment of women and domestic violence, yet the reality on the ground does not appear to change. It is necessary for the victims and their families to understand that unless dowry demands and harassment are reported well within time and the families of young women stand by them, there is little that the court of law and other agencies can do.”
Ms. Lau further said: “We must realise that by not reporting such incidents the most vital evidence is often lost and the guilty frequently get away. The evidence in the present case is totally lacking. If there was harassment or demand for dowry, why was it not reported? Why was the issue not taken up and discussed with friends and relatives? Why, if the deceased was subjected to torture [by branding with tongs], was she not provided immediate medical attention by her parental family and, despite the same, compelled to join the family of the accused? Why, at the first instance after her death, did her family members [parents and brothers] not inform the Sub-Divisional Magistrate and the Investigating Officer of the various instances of harassment and torture in the same manner in which they have now deposed in the court? Or, is it that there was some other reason due to which the deceased ended her life?”
In June 2006, when she was living in her parental house, Seema was brought to hospital with severe burns. Her parents alleged that she had committed suicide because of harassment and torture arising from dowry demands that her in-laws had inflicted since her marriage four months ago.
The judge noted that when the in-laws shut the doors on Seema and she returned to her parental home, her mother and brothers on May 16 “forcibly left” her outside her matrimonial home at Kingsway Camp, telling the accused that they were not in a position to fulfil their demands.
“Further, assuming that all the allegations of torture, harassment and demand for dowry, on the face of it, are correct and are to be believed, then under the given circumstances, is not this act of the parents and the brothers in forcibly leaving the young girl at the mercy of her in-laws who, according to them, had been inflicting brutalities upon their daughter, in itself highly inappropriate, unacceptable and criminal? ... No family which is educated and well-placed would use force/compel their daughter to join the company of her husband and in-laws given the background of torture unless they are themselves satisfied that their daughter would be safe and happy in her matrimonial home,” Ms. Lau observed.