Court acquits man of abetting wife's suicide

Dange's father-in-law had lodged a complaint against him alleging harassment.

Mumbai: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court overturned a trial court conviction in 2003 of abetment of suicide of his wife, Meena and acquitted the husband, Sheshrao Dange. The bench held that the death of a woman within seven years of marriage by committing suicide couldn’t be assumed that she took the extreme step over being harassed by her husband for dowry.

Meena had committed suicide in 2002 and had left no note, but her father subsequently went to the police blaming Dange. The court held that even though there was proof of money being paid to the husband by the girl’s father, the prosecution could not prove that it was towards dowry as the amount was only Rs 5,000.

A single bench of Justice A.S. Chandurkar was hearing the criminal appeal of Sheshrao Dange who had been convicted of abetting the suicide of his wife Meena two years after marriage and was sentenced to imprisonment for five years and for one year for subjecting her to cruelty by the trial court in 2003.

According to the appeal, Dange had claimed that he was married to Meena in 2000 and had a boy child from her. In 2002, she was admitted to a government hospital where she received treatment for three days after which she expired. The father of the girl lodged a complaint two days after her death alleging harassment and dowry related suicide by his daughter. As evidence, the father said that he had paid Rs 5,000 as advance to his son-in-law.

However, Dange’s counsel referred to a Supreme Court judgement where it was held that the court has to consider whether alleged cruelty was of such nature that was likely to drive the woman to commit suicide. “Merely because suicide was committed within seven years of the marriage, the same would not automatically give rise to the presumption that suicide had been abetted by her husband,” said Mr Chandurkar. Secondly, as the father of victim admitted that he paid Rs 5,000 as advance to Dange, it was not proved that it was towards dowry demand. Thus saying, the court acquitted Dange and quashed the trial court judgement.

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