Delhi court acquits doctor of dowry death, cruelty charges

 More than 10 years after a woman doctor committed suicide at AIIMS-Delhi, a court here has acquitted her husband, also a doctor, of causing her death with his demands for dowry.

The prosecution “miserably failed” to prove that the accused had harassed his wife and that drove her to commit suicide, it said.

Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Pahuja was hearing a case against Dr Paras Khanna. The Safdarjang Enclave police station had registered an FIR against him under sections 304 B (dowry death) and 498 A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code.

According to the prosecution, Dr Varnika — Khanna’s wife — committed suicide in a hostel room at AIIMS in August 2013.

The FIR was registered on the basis of the statement of her father, who said Varnika was harassed by her husband and her in-laws for dowry since their marriage in November 2012.

“The prosecution has miserably failed to prove on record that the deceased was harassed by the accused during her lifetime that might have driven her to commit suicide,” the court said in a recent order.

“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 reasonable doubt,” it further said.

The court added that the evidence on record entitled the accused to the benefit of doubt.

“Therefore, the accused Paras Khanna is hereby acquitted of the charges levelled against him in the present case,” it said.

The court said the “circumstances appearing on record” did not indicate the accused’s guilt.

“It is well-known maxim that the men may speak lies but the circumstances do not. In the instant case, writings and letters written by the deceased clearly show that the accused loved the deceased prior to her death and she had also no complaint against him,” the court said.

Noting Varnika’s writings in her diary, the court said she was “deeply attached” to another person before marriage and was unable to forget her past.

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“In fact, it appears that the deceased was feeling guilty of not being able to live up to her own expectations or expectations of others which probably mounted pressure upon her mind,” the court said.

It underlined Varnika’s “fragile state of mind” while specifically citing one of her diary entries where she had written that the accused loved her but she also expressed her “strong” negative emotions about the probability of ending her life.

“A cumulative consideration of the overall evidence on the facet of dowry leaves this court unconvinced about the truthfulness of the charge ,” the court said.

It also said the prosecution’s additional charge of abetment to suicide against the accused was also not made out.

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