12 years after woman’s suicide, Delhi court convicts husband of cruelty charge

 More than 12 years after a woman committed suicide, a court here has convicted her husband of the offence of subjecting her to cruelty.

The court observed that beating up a woman and levelling allegations on her character is a “wilful conduct” that can cause “grave injury” to her physical and mental health.

The court, however, acquitted the husband and three of his family members of the charges of murder and dowry death after noting that there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations.

Additional Sessions Judge Sachin Sangwan was hearing a case against the woman’s husband, Sonu, and three of his family members, who were accused of driving the victim, Parinita, to commit suicide by hanging in the Sarai Kale Khan area here on January 5, 2011.

The four accused were also alternatively charged with murder.

“Accused Sonu is convicted for the offence under section 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, whereas all other accused are acquitted from all the charges,” the judge said.

He said any wilful conduct of the husband or any of his relatives that is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) amounts to cruelty.

“Causing physical beatings and making allegations on the character of a woman definitely falls in the wilful conduct of a nature which is likely to cause grave injury to her physical and mental health,” the judge said in his verdict pronounced on December 1.

The court noted that the victim had made a complaint to an NGO, alleging that she was beaten up by her husband and the other accused as they suspected that she had illicit relations.

The contents of the complaint “categorically” showed that the acts of Sonu were within the ambit of IPC section 498A, the court said, adding that there was no reason for the victim to make a false allegation against her husband.

The court said though the testimonies of the victim’s mother and grandmother were “not reliable” regarding dowry demands, the duo had deposed about the beatings by Sonu.

Regarding the charge of murder, the court said except for the allegations of the victim’s family members that she was strangulated, there was no other evidence for the offence and the post-mortem report showed that it was a case of hanging.

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Raising “serious doubts” on the alleged dowry demand by the accused, the court said as the victim married Sonu after eloping with him and against the wishes of her family members, it had to be circumspect in relying upon their testimonies.

It pointed out that in the statements given to the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), there were no allegations of dowry demand.

Also, the victim’s complaint did not mention a single word about any dowry demand, much less any specific demand for dowry, the court said.

“After considering the overall facts and circumstances, the court is of the view that the testimonies of the family members of the deceased are not reliable regarding the alleged dowry demand,” it said.

The court has posted the matter for filing of affidavits and reports on Wednesday, following which arguments on sentencing will begin.

The Sunlight Colony police station had registered an FIR against the accused.

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