Merely if a woman commits suicide within two months of marriage,Whole Family Cannot be Convicted for Murder

In a recent case, the Bombay High Court acquitted and in-laws a deceased woman who committed suicide within two months of marriage. The Court observed that just because the woman died at her matrimonial house, within two months, the entire family can’t be stigmatised for having committed offence u/s 302 of IPC that punishes murder.

A Division Bench comprising Hon’ble Justice NR Borkar and Hon’ble Justice Sadhna S Jadhav set aside a Sessions Court judgement dated 29.06.2012  that convicted the husband and his family member for offences punishable u/s 498A, 302, 304B r/w Section 34 of IPC and u/s 3,4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

The Bench opined that the deceased woman’s family hurriedly married off their daughter, who did not want to get married but wanted to study further. As per the Court, the woman committed suicide in a state of stress.

Background:

The couple got married on 28.07.2010 and lived in a joint family. In September 2010, the woman committed suicide by hanging. The victims’ father registered a complaint and alleged that she committed suicide due to harassment by her husband and in-laws who wanted a gold ring for the husband.

The prosecution examined nine witnesses while the defence examined four.

Contentions:

Before the Court, the appellants argued that there was evidence to show no dispute between the family members either for gold or for her dowry. It was further argued that the woman committed suicide within two months of marriage, suggested that she was married off against her wishes.

However, the prosecution contended that the lady committed suicide due to mental depression. It was further contended that the woman, on various occasions, informed her brother and father that her husband and in-laws were ill-treating her and were demanding a gold ring.

Observations and Decision of the Court:

The Court opined that as the medical report clearly stated that the woman died due to asphyxia caused by hanging, a conviction for offence u/s 302 of IPC was unwarranted. The Court also took note of a neurologist’s statement who treated the woman who stated that she was under mental stress and was a sensitive girl.

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After going through the case’s facts, the Court opined that the woman wanted to continue her education, but her parents got her married. As the woman was not happy with her marriage and was under mental stress, she committed suicide. Therefore the accused should be acquitted.

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